What's in a Name? The name, "bull shark", comes from its stocky shape and
broad, flat snout. In India, the bull shark is often called the
Sunderbans or Ganges shark and is considered a delicacy for Bengali
fish curries. In Africa it is often called Zambezi River Shark or
Weights and Measures: Bull sharks are large and stout. The males of this species can
reach 2.1 m (6.9 ft) long and weigh 90 kg (198.4 lb). The females
can be much larger, 3.5 m (11.5 ft) long and 230 kg (507 lb). It
is wider in comparison to its length than most sharks. It is gray
on top and is white below. The second dorsal fin is smaller than
Where in the World? The Bull shark is common in coastal areas of warm oceans, in rivers
and lakes, both in salt and fresh water. In the Atlantic it is found
from Massachusetts to South Brazil and from Morocco to Angola, in
the Pacific it is found from South Africa to Kenya, India, Vietnam
to Australia and from Baja California to Ecuador. They are also
found in the central Amazon River, and have been recorded as far
up the Mississippi River as Illinois. They are also found in the
fresh water Lake Nicaragua and the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers
of West Bengal and Assam in eastern India and adjoining Bangladesh.
It is found from the surface to a depth of at least 150 meters,
but most commonly it does not swim deeper than 30 meters.
Not So Picky: The bull shark has a omnivorous diet which means that it will eat
almost anything that comes in its way, like fishes (including other
sharks), rays, dolphins, turtles, birds, molluscs, echinoderms,
crustaceans and even terrestrial mammals.
Safe... usually: Bull sharks are mostly sluggish, solitary animals who cruise through
shallow waters. They seem not to view humans as prey under normal
conditions, but will bite out of curiosity or when threatened, or
in water where visibility is poor and a human might easily be mistaken
for a prey animal.
Testosterone & ATemper:Despite their apparent docility at times, they
are capable of surprising bursts of speed, and can be highly aggressive.
Often, they will charge their prey in an attempt to knock out the
victim, hence the name "bull". Their aggression is fueled
by testosterone, the bull shark having one of the highest testosterone
levels of all animals. Like all sharks, their behavior is poorly
understood and can seem unpredictable.
Birds and Bees: Breeding
takes place in the summer, often in brackish water of river mouths.
After a gestation of about a year, bull sharks give birth to as
many as 13 live young (they are viviparous). The young are about
70 cm long at birth and take as long as 10 years to reach maturity.
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