The Caribbean Sea stretches from Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama in the south, to Cuba, Haiti, and Puerto Rico in the north. Its warm waters are popular destinations for divers, swimmers, and tourists. But, they’re also home to dozens of sharks found in the Caribbean Sea. Among these sharks, only a few have been responsible for human fatalities. The vast majority of them present almost no threat to humans and draw tourists from all over the world.
Here, we’ll discover ten sharks found in the Caribbean. We’ll learn how to identify them and whether or not they’re in danger of extinction. We’ll also find out what they eat and whether or not they’re considered dangerous to humans.
1. Great Hammerhead Shark
Great hammerhead sharks are one of the most spectacular species of sharks in our oceans. They grow to nearly 20 feet long but have never been implicated in a human fatality. Their hammer-shaped heads, known as cephalofoils, give them a 360-degree field of vision. Great hammerhead sharks eat fish, stingrays, crustaceans, and even other sharks. Unfortunately, due to overfishing, pollution, and the shark fin soup industry, they’re Critically Endangered.
2. Tiger Shark
Tiger sharks found in the Caribbean Sea grow up to about 14 feet long, and have streamlined, torpedo-shaped bodies. Their teeth are serrated, and designed to kill and ingest bony fish, sea turtles, dolphins, seals, and even sea birds. Tiger sharks, like most sharks, are apex predators and because of their size and hunting prowess, are considered dangerous to humans. However, attacks are extremely rare for this Near Threatened species.
3. Nurse Shark
Nurse sharks grow up to ten feet long and have squarish noses and relatively small teeth. They’re found only in the shallow coastal waters of the Caribbean Sea, where they often swim in large groups. These sharks eat stingrays, small fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. Nurse sharks have been implicated in nine total attacks on humans, none of which proved fatal. Like most species of shark, their numbers have declined in recent decades due to pollution, overfishing, and the shark fin soup industry. Today, they’re listed as Vulnerable to extinction.
4. Blacktip Shark
Blacktip sharks found in the Caribbean Sea grow to a maximum length of around six feet. They have torpedo-shaped bodies with pointed snouts and black tips on their fins. These sharks live in all the waters of the Caribbean and eat mainly fish. Some of their favorite prey species include tilapia, grouper, herring, mullet, porgies, and sardines. Blacktip sharks are classified as Near Threatened.
5. Whale Shark
Whale sharks live in tropical and subtropical waters all over the world. They grow up to 40 feet long and have wide, flat mouths. Like other sharks, they have upright dorsal and tail fins and large pectoral fins. Unlike other sharks, whale sharks are actually filter feeders and eat mostly zooplankton. They’re not dangerous to humans, though they are Endangered. Like almost all species of sharks, whale sharks face threats from pollution and overfishing.
6. Caribbean Reef Shark
These sharks found in the Caribbean Sea grow up to nine feet long. They stick close to the coasts and inhabit only shallow waters, usually near coral reefs. Though responsible for a small number of non-fatal attacks on humans, Caribbean reef sharks are Endangered and are not considered dangerous. They eat stingrays, eagle rays, squid, octopus, and bony fish.
7. Bull Shark
Bull sharks are famously capable of living in fresh and salt water. They grow to around eleven feet long and have pointed, wickedly sharp teeth. Bull sharks only live in shallow coastal waters, where they hunt almost everything, including other sharks. They have thick bodies with short snouts and long fins. The IUCN lists them as Near Threatened.
8. Lemon Shark
These sharks found in the Caribbean Sea rarely attack people and have never been implicated in a human death. Lemon sharks grow up to 10 feet long and stick to the sandy ocean floor, where they hunt fish, crustaceans, and smaller sharks. Listed as Vulnerable, lemon sharks are a particular favorite of snorkelers and divers because of their gentle, inquisitive nature.
9. Oceanic Whitetip Shark
Oceanic whitetip sharks have exceptionally long pectoral fins; they grow up to about ten feet long. They’re Critically Endangered due to overfishing, pollution, and the shark fin soup industry. Oceanic whitetips eat mostly fish but will also feast on carrion. They live in coastal waters and the deep ocean and can be found in any of the world’s tropical oceans.
10. Silky Shark
Silky sharks found in the Caribbean Sea grow up to eight feet long and eat mostly fish. Like many sharks, they’re Vulnerable to extinction, and their population has declined significantly in recent decades. They swim all the waters of the Caribbean Sea and are not generally considered dangerous to humans. Silky sharks have streamlined bodies with small dorsal fins and large tail fins.
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