The Mediterranean Sea is vast, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the west of Asia. The sea actually borders 22 countries, so you can imagine how diverse the wildlife under the water is! For instance, Cyprus and Malta are islands surrounded by the majestic Mediterranean Sea. Interestingly, the Mediterranean sea is not quite as you would expect. It first formed 5.5 million years ago when a great flood took over. Even before the flood brought back the waters to the Mediterranean Sea, what once existed previously disappeared for thousands of years because of the Messinian Salinity Crisis.
In the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, you can find lots of fish, sharks, whales, and dolphins. In fact, there are at least 47 shark species that call the area home. Ready to learn more about ten unique sharks in the Mediterranean sea? Keep on reading to discover amazing facts about these ten common sharks.
The sandbar shark has a unique nickname – the thickskin shark. These sharks are common in the Mediterranean Sea, but you can also find them throughout the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the United States. Despite this, they are currently an endangered species. These sandbar sharks are heavy animals with rounded snouts. They reach at least 6 feet long, but can grow until they are 8 feet long. Just like their name suggests, sandbar sharks commonly live and hunt on sandbars. They prefer areas close to the coast with large sandy or muddy banks including islands, bays, and harbors. These large fish stick to the bottom of the sandbar and rarely go near the surface when hunting. Instead, they prefer to feed on animals such as stingrays, shrimps, crabs, and squid.
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark
Another common shark in the Mediterranean Sea is the scalloped hammerhead shark. They are large sharks that are known for their scallop-shaped heads and grow up to 13 feet long. Interestingly, they actually have small mouths despite the size of their bodies. Their awkward body proportions actually make it harder for them to hunt food, which is why they don’t usually prey on animals larger than a stingray – their favorite food. Scalloped hammerheads are found throughout the world, but prefer shallow waters with sandbars to hunt in. Although in the past scalloped hammerheads traveled in large groups they have since learned that it is safer to swim alone. Therefore, they are now rarely in groups, with the exception of juvenile sharks in a nursery.
Great White Shark
Out of the 47 sharks found in the Mediterranean Sea, great white sharks are the top predators with their aggressive natures and large bodies. They don’t have many predators, with the exception being the occasional pod of killer whales (orcas). However, great white sharks are more common in warmer waters near Australia, California, and South Africa. Great white sharks have a rich history and their much larger relative lived long before dinosaurs roamed the earth. The average size of a great white shark is 15 feet long, but the world’s largest great white measured 23 feet long. Great white sharks prefer swimming near the coast and they stay away from cold waters like Antarctica. The exact lifespan is not known, but researchers predict it is at least 70 years. These large predatory fish consume other smaller sharks, whales, dolphins, fish, squid, and many more.
Blue sharks swim throughout the Mediterranean Sea and the rest of the world. These sharks don’t have a preference for where they live, eat, or swim since they adapt to their environment. They are unique-looking sharks as they have a long head and snout. They are also curious and large, measuring an average of 10 feet. Blue sharks have blue backs and on the side of their bodies but have white bellies. They are regarded as graceful swimmers because of their unique shape. Blue sharks are hunters that eat squid, fish, crabs, and smaller sharks. They use their quick speed to catch smaller sharks off guard. Unlike most sharks, blue sharks swim in schools, but they separate by gender.
The Mediterranean Sea is known for its vast number of beautiful estuaries, beaches, bays, and rivers, which is where many blacktip sharks live. These sharks are hard to identify since they look like many other sharks, including the spinner shark. However, they have black tips on all of their fins and slender bodies. They reach 6 feet long and weigh up to 150 pounds. Although they are good hunters they stay away from larger animals, including humans. Actually, in the Mediterranean Sea, it is common for divers to interact with blacktip sharks since they are curious. You can commonly see them near islands surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea because they prefer swimming in shallow waters. These sharks are one of the few sharks to hunt in packs, but they do not regularly swim together.
Spinner sharks live all over the world. They adapt well to new surroundings including the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean Sea. These sharks are known for their unique hunting abilities since they quickly swim through large schools of fish to catch multiple animals. Once they swim through the schools of fish they jump out of the water and spin. They eat tuna, herring, and lizard fish. They are mainly found in the southern Mediterranean, including North Africa. However, you can also find them in the waters near South America. They prefer swimming in warm and shallow waters, which is where many schools of fish travel. These sharks do not have a home and migrate constantly looking for places with lots of food.
Longfin Mako Shark
The longfin mako is an aggressive shark that grows up to 14 feet long. It is a migratory shark that travels frequently. As the name suggests, the longfin mako shark has fins longer than the size of its head. It is also closely related to the shortfin mako shark. These sharks also have high body temperatures, usually even warmer than the body of water they swim in. While they are massive hunters, they move slower than shortfin mako sharks. Female longfin mako sharks give birth to live pups, but only 2-8 sharks each pregnancy. The baby sharks eat fertilized and unfertilized eggs in their mother’s womb. Longfin mako sharks are endangered because of overfishing as well as their low reproductive rates. They mainly feast on pelagic squids and schooling fishes.
Gulper sharks are a small species of shark that only grows to about 3 feet long. Unlike other sharks on this list, the gulper shark prefers swimming in deep waters of at least 720 feet deep. They are especially common near Australia, but you can occasionally find them in the deep waters of the Mediterranean Sea. These sharks are also known as Harrison’s dogfish and are related to the dogfish family. They are slender, with short and flat snouts. Gulper sharks are easy to spot because of their bright green eyes. Sadly, they are an endangered species because of commercial fishing. Most of their diet consists of squid and large fish. Many people illegally hunt this type of shark because of its nutritious liver. These sharks also don’t reach maturity until at least 23 years old.
Currently, dusky sharks are a threatened species. While they are not endangered they are close because of overfishing and low reproduction. These sharks live throughout the world but prefer swimming in coastal waters in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea where they swim in warm waters. Dusky sharks are migratory sharks and frequently find new hunting grounds. They also live approximately 50 years and only reach sexual maturity at 20 years old. Female dusky sharks only get pregnant once every three years. The litters contain anywhere from 2 to 12 shark pups and the mother transports them to the nursery where they stay for a few years. Another name for dusky sharks is black whalers.
Bluntnose Sixgill Shark
Unlike many other shark species, the bluntnose sixgill shark has six gills instead of five on each side of their body. They are long sharks with ancestry dating back at least 200 million years ago. These deep sea sharks are grayish brown to black and have bright green eyes. They also have a blunt and rounded snout with a long tail. Interestingly, they are unique because they share more similar traits with prehistoric sharks compared to modern sharks. They are large hunters and the average bluntnose Sixgill shark reaches 16 feet long. While these sharks often live in the deeper parts of the ocean, in the Mediterranean they venture to shallow waters during the night to hunt for food. They are not picky eaters and will attack smaller sharks, crabs, shrimp, fish, and more.
Summary of 10 Sharks in the Mediterranean Sea
|Scalloped Hammerhead Shark
|Great White Shark
|Longfin Mako Shark
|Bluntnose Sixgill Shark
The photo featured at the top of this post is © ilan elgrably/Shutterstock.com
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