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16 Shark Species Swimming in Florida

16 Shark Species Swimming in Florida

I love sharks! And recently I have been wondering: of the hundreds of shark species swimming in our world’s oceans, how many are found in Florida? Well, let’s have a look! 

1. Blacktip Sharks

Blacktip shark
Oceanic blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) and remora fish underwater in Natal, South Africa. Image by longjourneys via depositphotos.com

Blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus, are known for the spinning leaps they make out of the water while feeding on big schools of fish. Sadly, these energetic sharks are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. 

2. Nurse Sharks

Nurse Shark
Nurse Shark and yellow pilot fish close up on black background while diving in Maldives. Image by Izanbar via depositphotos.com

Nurse sharks, Ginglymostoma cirratum, are slow-moving sharks and spend most of their time dwelling around the bottom of the ocean. Although they can grow to 14 feet long, they have small teeth and mostly feed opportunistically. Due to the fishing industry Nurse Sharks have a Vulnerable status on the IUCN Red List. 

3. Bull Sharks

bull shark
Bull Shark. Image by Andaman via depositphotos.com

Bull sharks, Carcharhinus leucas, can survive in saltwater and freshwater environments. These sharks headbutt their prey to stun them before feeding on them. Due to habitat loss and overfishing these sharks are currently listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. 

4. Lemon Sharks

Lemon shark
Lemon shark in the Bahamas. Image by Divepics vie depositphotos.com

Lemon sharks, Negaprion brevirostris, with their brown and yellow coloring leading to their name, are the most common shark found in Florida. They are no threat to humans and live in groups. Unfortunately, due to overfishing, these sharks too are listed as Vulnerable. 

5. Blacknose Sharks

Blacknose shark
Blacknose shark Carcharhinus acronotus swims across the coral reef in tropical waters. Image by stephstarr9363@gmail.com via depositphotos.com

Blacknose Sharks, Carcharhinus acronotus, received their name due to their characteristic black blotch on the tip of their noses. These sharks pose little threat to humans as they feed on smaller fish and octopuses. Due to overfishing, these sharks are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. 

6. Great Hammerhead Sharks

great hammerhead shark
A Great Hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran) in Bimini, Bahamas. Image by ratherton via deposithotos.com

Great Hammerhead sharks, Sphyrna mokarran, are the largest hammerhead species in the ocean and can reach lengths of 20 feet! Despite their impressive size, these curious sharks rarely harm humans. Unfortunately due to the demand for shark fin, these sharks are listed as Critically Endangered. 

7. Tiger Sharks

tiger shark
Tiger shark swimming in the ocean. Image by Divepics via depositphotos.com

Tiger sharks, Galeocerdo cuvier, named due to their tiger-like stripes that fade as they age, are solitary animals that feed on a wide variety of marine life and even human garbage. These sharks are listed as Near Threatened due to the cruel act of shark finning and overfishing.

8. Atlantic Sharpnose Sharks

Atlantic sharpnose shark
Rhizoprionodon terraenovae, Florida. Image by D Ross Robertson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Atlantic Sharkponse sharks, Rhizoprionodon terraenovae, are quite small sharks – growing to about 3.9 feet and born at only 15 inches! These pointy-nosed sharks are the first sharks on our list that are marked as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. 

9. Sandbar Sharks

Sandbar shark
Sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus), also known as the thickskin shark. Image by wrangel via depositphotos.com

Sandbar sharks, Carcharhinus plumbeus, are known for their extremely high dorsal fin and heavy bodies reaching weights of 530 pounds. As their name suggests, these sharks swim around close to the ocean’s sandy floors and are currently listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. 

10. Great White Sharks

great white
Great white shark, South Africa. Image by paluoff.gmail.com via Depositphotos.

Great White sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, have earned a notorious reputation in the media due to their size, power, and renowned predatory behavior. These torpedo-shaped sharks grow to an average size of 16 feet but still swim at 16 mph and depths of up to 3900 feet! As fearsome as these impressive sharks are, humans are not their first choice of prey. They are listed as Vulnerable due to habitat loss and overfishing. 

11. Caribbean Reef Sharks

caribbean reef shark
Caribbean reef shark shark scuba diving. Image by Pete Kontakos, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Caribbean Reef sharks, Carcharhinus perezi, are loved by divers for their tolerance and patience while sharing the water. These sharks play a significant role in maintaining the ecosystems of coral reef areas by preying on sick fish. They are listed as Endangered due to habitat loss and overfishing. 

12. Bonnethead Sharks

bonnethead shark
Image by stephstarr9363@gmail.com via depositphotos.com

Bonnethead sharks, Sphyrna tiburo, are members of the hammerhead family and grow to about three feet in length. These sharks are the only known omnivorous shark species and include significant amounts of seagrass in their diet. Recently their status has been changed to Endangered due to habitat loss and fishing. 

13. Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks

Scalloped hammerhead
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark Sphyrna Lewini. Image by Kris Mikael Krister, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Scalloped Hammerhead sharks, Sphyrna lewini, received their name due to the distinctive scallop formation their heads take. Averaging at about 8.2 feet and 80 pounds, these sharks need a lot of food due to their high metabolism, making them constantly on the hunt! These sharks are listed as Critically Endangered mainly due to overfishing. 

14. Dusky Sharks

dusky shark
Dusky shark. Image by אליעד מלין, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dusky sharks, Carcharhinus obscurus, are named after their dusky skin complexion. These migratory sharks grow to 13 feet and 770 pounds but still keep their streamlined physique. As one of the slowest growing and maturing sharks, they only reach sexual maturity around 20 years, making their Endangered status all the more worrisome. 

15. Spinner Sharks

spinner shark
Spinner shark (Carcharhinus brevipinna). Image by Apex Predators Program, NOAA/NEFSC, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Spinner sharks, Carcharhinus brevipinna, are named after their acrobatic-like feeding strategy. These sharks speed through large schools of fish while spinning, and leaping out of the water at the end of their burst. Unfortunately, due to many threats, the spinner shark is also listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. 

16. Silky Sharks

silky shark
View of a silky shark from bellow. Image by Nicosbs via depositphotos.com

Silky sharks, Carcharhinus falciformis, are another shark species named after the appearance of their skin, in this case silky smooth! These sharks have incredible hearing, allowing them to find food sources from far distances. These sharks are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, again the aftermath of overfishing. 

Final Say on Sharks in Florida

Hammerheads' Thrilling Visit in Alabama's Waters
School of hammerhead sharks circling from above the ocean depths. 3d rendering. Image by digitalstorm via depositphotos.com

I hope you enjoyed exploring some of the shark species swimming in Florida with me! And just keep in mind, although shark attacks have been recorded these are sporadic events and mostly due to cases of mistaken identity, not malice. That being said, seeing that most of these species are at some level of endangered due to human activities just amplifies the need to act in aiding their conservation.

If you are interested in learning more about sharks and enjoyed this article on sharks swimming in Florida, have a look at these articles:

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