Are Bull Sharks Dangerous Or Aggressive?

Bull Shark Attacking
© Michael Gomes/

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley

Published: August 7, 2022

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The bull shark is a popular shark found in warm, shallow waters along coasts and rivers worldwide. This shark can also live in both saltwater and freshwater habitats. The popularity of this shark is no fluke as it has different names it answers to around the world. The bull shark is also known as the “Zambezi shark” in Africa and answers to the “Lake Nicaragua shark” in Central America.

In fact, it goes by other names like Van Rooyen’s shark (Africa) and Ganges shark (India). In Australia alone, it answers to three names: “Freshwater whaler”, “Estuary whaler,” and “Swan River whaler.” The reason this big fish is famous around the world is because of its predatory nature. How aggressive are they? Are bull sharks dangerous to humans? Let’s find out!

Background on the Bull Shark

What do bull sharks eat - face close up

Bull sharks can weigh up to 500 pounds.


The bull shark is an apex predator built as a mean killing machine. The bull shark can weigh up to 500 lbs and grow up to 11.5 ft. Its needle-like teeth, which can pierce like a new blade through animal meat, are shiny white and triangular. The teeth can hold unto slippery prey easily and even crack open shells.

This apex predator has a broad diet and isn’t picky with what it eats. Its diet can include fish, other sharks, marine mammals, birds, and turtles. There have been instances where bull sharks turned on their kind. Although such incidents are rare, it tells you how much of a hunter and predator the bull shark is. There are only two other predatory sharks in the same class as the bull shark: the white shark and the tiger shark.

Is the Bull Shark Aggressive?

Bull shark swimming over sandy seafloor.

Bull sharks are dangerous and aggressive sharks.

©Carlos Grillo/

Because of their aggressive tendencies, bull sharks are often considered to be the most dangerous sharks to humans. Most shark attacks in waters worldwide can be linked to three shark species: the great white shark, the tiger shark, and the bull shark. These three have a reputation for attacking humans unprovoked. The bull shark is a special shark species that can thrive in fresh and saltwater habitats, meaning they are closer to humans than the other two aggressive species.

Many scientists believe that many attacks attributed to the great white shark are cases of mistaken identity. Great white sharks lack good vision and are usually not found in warm, tropical waters where most of these attacks occur. If that is the case, the apparent culprit would be the bull shark. It is safe to think this way since they are usually found around human habitats. The bull shark is the only vicious shark that ventures far inland via rivers and tributaries. Since they are more likely to meet people, it is more likely that they would be the ones responsible for shark attacks on humans.

Most bull shark attacks have been recorded less than a hundred feet from the shore of popular beaches in America (especially Florida and Hawaii), Australia, and South Africa. This fact lends credence to bull sharks sponsoring most of the shark attacks that happen among humans. These sharks are so mean that they begin their attacks with a head butt. The bull shark has been involved in 121 confirmed shark attack cases worldwide. If we are honest, that’s a lot of attacks for one species.

Are Bull Sharks Dangerous To Humans?

Bull shark facts - bull shark with human

Bull sharks are dangerous to humans.


The bull shark is dangerous to humans. The fact that they aren’t just aggressive but can come to the shores of beaches to display that aggression is a pointer to how dangerous these sharks are. However, they do not have an appetite for human meat as they usually disengage when they discover that they have attacked a human being. This fact has not, however, stopped them from leaving some fatal cases behind them. There have been 25 clear instances where bull shark attacks on humans have ended fatally. This shows how dangerous and aggressive bull sharks are.

How to Avoid a Bull Shark Attack

The bull shark is the closest to human habitats and is no doubt aggressive and dangerous. People should do everything in their power to avoid any chances of meeting a bull shark face to face. Here are a few tips to help you avoid being the victim of a bull shark attack.

  • Stay away from the water at night

Most shark species are known to do most of their hunting at night. If you take the nights away from the time you spend at sea or in the water, you would significantly reduce the likelihood of getting attacked by a bull shark.

  • Stay away from the water if you are bleeding

While blood might not be a primary trigger, playing safe is better. So if you have a bleeding wound or get injured in the water, it’s best to get out immediately to avoid any incidents. It’s always better to avoid playing bait with an animal like the bull shark.

  • Don’t swim alone

Sharks that attack humans are known to target loners. The activity around many people makes it difficult to attack people in a crowd. A loner is an easier target for the shark, who would fare well with fewer distractions.

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