shark may be the most common inshore/near shore shark in the
northern Gulf, rivaled in number only by the blacktip shark.
Typically, blacktips are smaller, with a more slender body
shape, a more pointed nose and black tips on their fins. The
bull shark is the species implicated in the attacks on humans
in the northern Gulf in 2001.
scientifically known as Carcharhinus leucas, is found worldwide
in warm seas. It is also the third most common species involved
in attacks on humans worldwide, behind only the great white
and tiger sharks. It is not nearly as well known as the huge
two-toned, torpedo-shaped great white shark or the attractively-striped
tiger shark, with its graceful arched tail fin. The bull sharks
dull gray color, stubby body shape and blunt nose resembles
– well, a thug. Adding to this image is its reputation
for aggressiveness and its preference for low-salinity, murky
do bull sharks prefer low-salinity waters, they can in fact,
thrive in completely fresh water. They have been found as
far up the Mississippi River as St. Louis, Missouri. They
have been found 2000 miles up the Amazon River and in freshwater
Lake Nicaragua, where they are recognized as dangerous sharks,
both in the lake and in the river connecting it to the sea.
research on the bull shark is not complete, it is known that
large females seek out low-salinity estuaries and river mouths
to bear their 1 to 10 living young, typically between April
and June. The pup’s measure 29 inches at birth and are
born fully armed with teeth. They stay in low-salinity waters
about six years, feeding and growing until 4 to 5 feet in
length. Bull sharks will grow to 11 feet long and live at
least 20 years. They eat almost any type of fish or shellfish,
but seem to prefer rays, including stingrays and other sharks.
Fishermen have found that one of the best baits for bull sharks
is fresh shark flesh.
A&M University researcher has identified Sabine Pass,
between Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, and Jefferson County,
Texas, as a nursery area used by hundreds of female bull sharks
to give birth each year. However, most of Louisiana’s
coastal waters are believed to serve the same purpose. Bull
sharks are so common in Louisiana estuaries that almost any
shark without black tips on its fins that is caught inshore
is likely to be a bull shark. Often these are called “sand
sharks”, a catchall term for any small shark. Worldwide,
over 350 species of sharks exist; not one of them is a species
called a sand shark.