Regarding aquatic life, size is extremely important, especially for anglers. Certain conditions and environments can influence the growing process of a fish, causing it to reach impressive lengths and weights. For example, the tiger shark has an average length of about 14 feet (4.2 m). The largest specimen discovered, however, was 24.6 feet (7.4 m) long – almost double the size!
Where do people go when they want to find large sharks?
Obviously, in Florida! The state is known for having the most shark attacks on record worldwide – 896 unprovoked attacks. On top of that, Florida is also home to New Smyrna Beach, a city adorned with the title of the “shark attack capital of the world.”
How many species of sharks are in Florida?
A study examining 3,398 sharks caught off Florida in-between 2009 and 2021 found that the state hosts a total of 15 species of sharks. The most common are nurse, blacktip, and lemon sharks (which make the topic of this article).
The waters around Florida are home to about 314 lemon sharks. Studies show that most species, including lemon sharks, use Florida’s waters as nursery grounds. This doesn’t mean that the shark population here isn’t aggressive.
Most species are highly aggressive, and caution is advised when swimming or exploring the ocean. Florida’s Volusia County holds the title of the “Shark Bite Capital of the World.” Of all the attacks in the state, 63% occur only there. Given this, caution becomes near-mandatory!
What is a lemon shark?
Lemon sharks are a species known for their yellow and brown coloring. They prefer shallow subtropical waters and are known to return to their preferred nursery grounds for breeding. If a lemon shark selects Florida as its nursery, it will most likely return there.
They usually grow up to 7.9-10.2 feet (2.4-3.1 m) long and weigh around 200 lbs (90 kg). However, as mentioned above, exceptional specimens, not only shark enthusiasts, impress everyone.
Some sources suggest that the longest recorded lemon shark is 11.3 feet (3.4 m), and the largest caught off Florida is 385 lb (174.63 kg). We’ll tell you exactly which numbers broke those records in the following lines.
What is the largest lemon shark caught off Florida?
The largest lemon shark caught off Florida is a 397 lb (180 kg) specimen caught in Dunedin on the 29th of April, 1977, by Richard M. Guccione. The data was confirmed by IGFA (the International Game Fish Association) and compiled in a list of Florida’s saltwater fishing records.
This might come as a surprise to some of you – why?
A brief search on the largest lemon shark caught off Florida tells you that the world record is a specimen weighing 385 lb (174.6 kg) caught in Florida Bay on the 16th of May, 2006. It was caught by Dr. Martin Arostegui, known for his over 100 world records. His lemon shark catch is also the largest fish caught on fly tackle.
Moreover, you can also come across bits of information suggesting that lemon sharks can actually weigh up to 551 lb (250 kg). This information is untrue. By adulthood, the average lemon shark weighs about 200 lbs (90 kg).
Regardless, the record 397 lb (180 kg) catch of Richard M. Guccione still stands.
What is the biggest lemon shark in the world?
According to various sources, the biggest lemon shark in the world is about 12.1 feet (3.7 m) long. Given the average length of this species, 12.1 feet (3.7m) is more than just possible. However, there is no clear evidence supporting any of those sources. The same applies to the maximum recorded length (and weight) mentioned by Wikipedia – 11.3 feet (3.43 m).
Interesting lemon shark facts
This species is known among sharks thanks to research done by Samuel Gruber on its behavior and ecology. Here are some interesting facts about Negaprion brevirostris:
- Lemon sharks use electroreceptors to find their prey. These receptors generate electric fields and help the fish perceive electrical stimuli;
- They live in groups and are known to communicate, protect fellow lemon sharks, engage in courtship and predatory behaviors at an enhanced level;
- There have only been ten documented lemon shark bites, and none of them have been fatal;
- They can be found as deep as 301 feet (92 m) but have also been spotted swimming up rivers and around river mouths and enclosed bays;
- Lemon sharks are hunted for their skin, fins, and meat, which is considered a delicacy in some cultures.
The lemon shark is currently classified as a vulnerable species. It is believed that overfishing led to the decline of lemon shark populations worldwide, especially in the eastern Pacific and western North Atlantic.
What is the largest shark caught off Florida?
The largest shark caught off Florida is a great white of 12.3 feet (3.74 m) and 1,644 lb (745.7 kg). It was spotted around Florida’s Gulf coast and is named Scot. Shark enthusiasts can always track Scot and learn more about his adventures.
This great white is important to our topic because lemon sharks are, on average, about 2 feet (0.6 m) smaller. When it comes to weight, however, there is a difference of 1,247 lb (565.6 kg) between Scot and the largest lemon shark ever caught off Florida.
For comparison, the largest caught great white weighed 2,663 lb (1,208 kg). It was caught in 1959 by Alf Dean. The largest recorded great white, however, is known as Deep Blue, a female specimen weighing over 5,500 lb (2,495 kg).
Given that adult great whites average at 1,151-1,700 lb (522-771 kg), it goes without saying why sharks are one of the most interesting species that roam our planet’s waters!
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