It's Shark Week! Meet 16 sharks found in Alabama coastal waters

Posted on May 18, 2016 7:05 AM | Updated July 26, 2018 1:16 PM

 

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Shark chart

Here are the 16 most common sharks that swim the coastal waters of Alabama. See the descriptive information under each photo to help you identify one shark from another. The list was compiled with the help of Dr. Bob Shipp. Dr. Shipp is a leading authority on the fishes of the Gulf of Mexico. He is a professor emeritus and past chair of the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of South Alabama. His book "Guide to Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico" is in its sixth printing and second edition. (Chart courtesy/ The University of Southern Mississippi/Gulf Coast Research Lab)

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Atlantic Sharpnose Shark

The Atlantic sharp nose shark is is very common the the Gulf of Mexico. They are found mainly in shallow water (less than 30 ft) but has been found down to 900 ft.. Average size between 2.5 to 3 ft, maximum total length about 4 ft.. Grey to grey-brown with white ventral surface. Adults have small light (white) dots on body, white margins on pectoral fins and and dusky dorsal fin tips. (Photo/Eric Hoffmayer)

JOE SONGER

Blacknose Shark

The blacknose shark is found in coastal tropical and warm temperate waters. They frequent waters along continental shelves over sandy and coral bottoms. The average length of a full-grown blacknose shark is approximately 4-4.5 feet. The blacknose shark is a quick swimmer, feeding on small fishes including pinfish, croakers, porgies, spiny boxfishes, and porcupine fish. (Photo/Eric Hoffmayer)

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Blacktip Shark

The blacktip shark has a long and pointed snout, small eyes and have a grey, grey-brown or bluish grey upper body. This is Alabama"s most common large coastal shark. The maximum reported length of the blacktip shark is 8.4 feet although the average size is five feet. (Photo/Eric Hoffmayer)

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Bonnethead Shark

Bonnethead sharks grow to an average length of 3-4 feet but can grow to six feet . Their eyes are at the tips of their flat, shovel shaped head. Bonnetheads feed during daylight hours primarily on crustaceans, dominated by blue crabs and shrimp. They will swim in small school and frequent reefs and inshore bays. (Photo/Eric Hoffmayer)

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Bull Shark

The bull shark is a stocky to very heavy-bodied species. Bull sharks can reach 11 feet in length.They can be found close inshore in water less than 90 ft. deep and occasionally less than a meter deep, but ranging down to 450 ft. Bull sharks are one of the three most dangerous species, beside the white shark and tiger shark. Favored food includes bony fishes, rays and other sharks, sometimes even other bull sharks but will feed on sea turtles, birds, and dolphins. (Photo/Eric Hoffmayer)

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Dusky Shark

Dusky sharks range from shallow inshore waters to the outer reaches of the continental shelf and adjacent oceanic waters. Although generally a bottom feeder, it can be found from the surface to a depth of over 1200 feet. They range in length from 8 to up to 12 feet. Dusky sharks feed on a wide variety of fishes, eels, rays and other sharks. (Photo/Eric Hoffmayer)

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Finetooth Shark

The finetooth shark is relatively small with an average length of 4-6 feet. This shark has very small, fine, clear teeth and feeds on small fish. They are known to form large schools. Finetooth sharks are dark bluish grey above and white below with an inconspicuous white band on the flank. (Photo/Eric Hoffmayer)

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Great Hammerhead Shark

The largest of the hammerhead sharks, the great hammerhead shark can average 500 pounds with a record size fish tipping the scales at over 900 pounds. The shark averages 7-10 feet in length although one recorded catch measured 20 feet long. Great hammerhead sharks are easily identified by their hammer-shaped heads with eyes located at the tips. They range from shallow coastal waters to depths of 900 feet. They feed on a variety fishes, rays and other sharks. (Photo/Eric Hoffmayer)

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Lemon shark

The lemon shark gets its name from its brownish yellow color. They frequent subtropical shallow water to depths of 300 feet and inhabits coral reefs, mangroves, enclosed bays, sounds and river mouths. Lemon sharks are one of the larger species of sharks reaching average lengths of 8-10 feet. These sharks eat a wide variety of fish, rays shrimp and crabs. They also have been know o eat birds and other sharks. (Photo/Eric Hoffmayer)

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Shortfin Mako Shark

Shortfin mako sharks are found around the world in tropical and temperate waters including the Gulf of Mexico. Average length is 10-12 feet weighing 135-300 pounds, although makos weighing over 1,000 pounds have been caught by anglers. The short fin moo is the fastest shark in the world able to reach speeds over over 20 mph.. They feed on swordfish, tunas, squid and other sharks. (Photo/William Driggers)

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Sand Tiger Shark

The sand tiger shark is a large shark ranging in size from 8-10 feet. It's teeth are very prominent set in large narrow rows.The sand tiger shark is light brown with a white belly. these sharks live in shallow bays as well as depths of 600 feet. They feed on bony fish, squid and other small sharks.(Photo/Eric Hoffmayer)

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Sandbar Shark

Sandbar Sharks are very common in the Gulf of Mexico and coastal Atlantic. They range in length fro 4-7 feet and adults average 100-200 pounds. This shark has a larger than average dorsal fin. Sandbar sharks are mostly bottom feeders and feed on octopus, squid, crabs and shrimp. They are more active at night. (Photo/Eric Hoffmayer)

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark

The scalloped hammerhead shark is the most abundant of the hammerhead species. Their average length is 8-10 feet but have been known to grow to 14 feet. Scalloped hammerheads have a large narrow-bladed head with eye set wide at the tips. They are grey to brown with a white under belly. Scalloped hammerheads feed on octopus, rays, a wide vra piety of fish and other smaller sharks.(Photo/Eric Hoffmayer)

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Silky Shark

The silky shark is a active, fast shark that is common in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. It prefers warmer water over deepwater reefs and ranges from the surface to more than 1,200 feet. Silky sharks range in length from 5-10 feet and eat a variety of fish including tuna, mackerel and mullet. (Photo/Eric Hoffmayer)

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Spinner Shark

Spinner Sharks are large and slender with a long and pointed snout and small eyes. They have a grey-bronze coloration with a white belly. Spinner sharks range in size from 6-10 feet and can weigh over 100 pounds. They eat a variety of fish, including tuna and will eat rays and smaller sharks. Spinner sharks are fast swimming and very active sharks. (Photo/Eric Hoffmayer)

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Tiger Shark

Tiger sharks have a short, blount snout and a large head. Average size of a tiger shark is 13-21 feet but can grow much larger. They are not picky eaters. They feed on fishes, sharks, turtles, birds, invertebrates, people, and even garbage. Their teeth are highly evolved and allow them to eat a wide variety of food items. They range from the surface to almost 500 ft. depths. (Photo/Eric Hoffmayer)

JOE SONGER

Thanks!

(Photos/Eric Hoffmayer, Wikimedia Commons,Jeff Kubina and William Driggers)

Joe Songer | jsonger@al.com

Related links to Alabama Wildlife

Snakes of Alabama

Spiders of Alabama

Butterflies of Alabama