I’m hoping you can help ID this shark that we caught off Islamorada, Florida. Is it a bull? The pectoral and dorsal fins overlap, so that’s what I’m guessing. We don’t catch all that many sharks, so I’m not sure on the species. Dennis Fonseca Miami, Florida
Be glad you were in a boat when you took those photos, Dennis. Although sharks are far from the mindless killing machines they are sometimes portrayed as being, you did catch a potentially dangerous species. As you suggested, it’s a bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas. I’m basing this ID on the relative position of the shark’s dorsal and pectoral fins, the lack of a ridge between its dorsal fins, and the convex shape of the leading edge of its first dorsal fin. Its relatively tall dorsal fin; short, broad snout; and small eyes are also characteristics of bull sharks. Bull sharks are found worldwide in warm waters, and may enter brackish and even fresh water; the Lake Nicaragua shark of South America and Zambezi River shark of Africa are, in actuality, bull sharks. Bull sharks are reputed to have the highest testosterone levels of any animal, and some shark researchers consider the bull shark to be the most dangerous shark species. Bulls can reach lengths approaching 12 feet and weigh well over 700 pounds.