The 10 Fastest Sharks in the World

Written by Hannah Ward
Updated: June 25, 2023
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There are more than 500 species of sharks in the world today and they are some of the best-known predators around. Although most sharks typically swim around at a leisurely pace, some are capable of absolutely devastating bursts of speed which they use to great effect when hunting their prey. Although some sharks are naturally built for speed, there are others that are surprisingly quick despite their appearance. But just how fast can they really swim? Join us as we discover the fastest sharks in the world!

Fastest sharks infographic
These 10 sharks are the fastest in the ocean today.

#10 Tiger Shark


sharks are fierce predators which can reach speeds of up to 20 mph!


The first shark on the list is the formidable tiger shark. Tiger sharks are well known as one of the most dangerous species due to a high number of unprovoked and fatal attacks on humans. They are apex predators and eat virtually anything they come across and one of the things that helps them be such incredible hunters is their speed. Despite appearing to move slowly, tiger sharks are capable of accelerating incredibly quickly and can reach up to 20 mph. They use this to seize their prey before they get the opportunity to escape. Tiger sharks also use their size to their advantage, being able to reach lengths of almost 14 feet. They typically inhabit coastal waters in tropical and subtropical oceans around the world, which is why they can often come into contact with humans.

#9 Hammerhead Shark

hammerhead shark

Hammerheads have a distinctive appearance and use their large heads to pin prey to the ocean floor.


Also capable of reaching speeds of up to 20mph are hammerhead sharks. Named for their distinctive hammer-shaped head, there are nine species of hammerhead sharks, and their size ranges between 2 feet 11 inches and 19 feet 8 inches. Hammerheads live in warm water around the world along coastlines and continental shelves. They eat a wide variety of prey including fish, crustaceans, squid, octopus, stingrays, and other sharks. They frequently swim along the ocean floor in search of food. Great hammerheads are one of the largest and most aggressive species and often eat other hammerheads. Both great and scalloped hammerheads are critically endangered, mainly as a result of overfishing.

#8 Bull Shark

Bull shark facts - a group of bull sharks

Bull sharks can reach 25 mph and literally attack and chase their prey until they are completely defeated.

©Katja Tsvetkova/

A shark with a particularly notorious reputation is the bull shark, which can reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. Bull sharks are large requiem sharks that usually reach around 11 feet long. Although they typically live in coastal regions they are renowned for their ability to tolerate freshwater and are frequently seen hundreds of miles upriver. Bull sharks are solitary hunters and feed on a range of prey including bony fish, stingrays, turtles, and dolphins. They are opportunistic feeders and hunt using a method known as “bump and bite.” This is when they bump something with their nose first to see what it is and then bite to see if it is edible. Bull sharks often continue to bump and bite their prey until it is too exhausted, or unable, to swim away.

#7 Nurse Shark

Despite their strange appearance and reputation for being lethargic, nurse sharks can move fast when they want to!

©Maui Topical Images/

Despite their appearance and reputation for being slow-moving sharks, nurse sharks can actually reach 25 mph. Nurse sharks are a vulnerable species of shark that inhabit tropical and subtropical waters in the Eastern Pacific and the Eastern and Western Atlantic oceans. They typically reach 10 feet long and have distinctly rounded heads with two barbels between their nostrils. Nurse sharks are bottom-dwellers and mainly prey on small fish, stingrays, crustaceans, and mollusks. They have dense, flattened teeth rather than sharp and pointy ones so that they can crack open the shells of their prey easily. Incredibly, they actually use suction to pull their prey into their mouths.

#6 Thresher Shark

Thresher sharks

have an unusually long tails which they use to whip their prey with.

©Shane Gross/

Some of the most fascinating and unique sharks are thresher sharks, of which there are three existing species. Thresher sharks live in all tropical and temperate oceans. They are large sharks that can reach lengths of up to 20 feet. They are incredibly distinctive as they have extremely long tails, which can be almost as long as their bodies. Thresher sharks often whip their tails violently, frequently slashing or stunning their prey with them. They mainly feed on tuna and mackerel, but also sometimes prey on seabirds too. Thresher sharks can swim at 30 miles per hour, but can whip their tail at up to 80 mph! Their unique appearance, combined with the speeds that they can reach and their ability to jump out of the water, makes them a popular choice as a game fish.

#5 Grey Reef Shark


reef shark

are some of the fastest swimmers to inhabit coral reefs, being capable of up to 31 mph.

©William Eburn / Creative Commons

One of the most agile and aggressive predators is the grey reef shark which can reach speeds of up to 31 mph in short bursts. Grey reef sharks are an endangered species of requiem shark. They are native to the Indian and Pacific oceans where they typically live at depths of less than 200 feet. They frequently live around coral reefs, hence their name, and are generally considered to be one of the fastest swimmers within their habitat. Grey reef sharks have streamlined bodies with blunt snouts and are no bigger than 8.5 feet long. They feed mainly on bony fish, squid, octopus, crabs, and lobsters. Grey reef sharks are particularly well known for their “threat displays” which involve adopting a “hunched” posture and swimming with an exaggerated side-to-side motion.

#4 Great White Shark

the great white shark is the one of the fastest sharks in the world, reaching 34mph

The great white shark is responsible for the largest number of unprovoked shark attacks on humans.

©Ramon Carretero/

Easily the best-known shark on the list and the one with the most notorious reputation is the great white.  Great white sharks are considered to be the most dangerous of all sharks, given their unpredictable nature and their relatively high number of attacks on humans. Therefore, knowing that they can achieve speeds of up to 34 miles per hour probably isn’t a great comfort! Great whites are large mackerel sharks that can reach 20 feet in length and weigh up to 5,000 pounds. They inhabit virtually all oceans with water between 12 and 24°C (54 to 75°F). Great whites are apex predators and have a bite force of 4,000 psi. They eat a wide range of prey, including seals, fish, dolphins, porpoises, whales, turtles, and birds.

#3 Blue Shark

With their long and slender bodies, blue sharks are built for speed.

©Martin Prochazkacz/

Also known as the wolves of the sea, blue sharks can reach an impressive speed of 43mph. Although they generally appear to be fairly slow and lethargic, blue sharks attack their prey from below using a sudden burst of speed. Their main prey is squid, although they also eat fish, sea birds, and smaller sharks. Blue sharks can reach 12 feet long and have a long and slender build. They inhabit deep temperate and tropical waters up to around 1,150 feet. Blue sharks are viviparous and give birth to up to 135 live young per litter. Blue sharks are typically preyed on by killer whales, great white sharks, and tiger sharks.

#2 Salmon Shark

The rare and elusive Salmon Shark, in the open ocean of Alaska.

Closely resembling the great white, salmon sharks are fierce predators.

©Warren Metcalf/

Coming in at a close second is the salmon shark which can reach speeds of up to 45 mph. Although there have been reports of them attaining much higher speeds, these are widely disregarded as being inaccurate. Salmon sharks are generally around 10 feet long and are grey to black on their upper bodies and white below, often giving them the appearance of a great white. They are native to the North Pacific Ocean where they are an apex predator. As their name suggests, salmon sharks regularly prey on salmon, although they also eat squid, herring, and sablefish.

#1 Shortfin Mako Shark

the fastest shark in the world is the shortfin mako shark which reaches a top speed of 46 miles per hour

Shortfin mako sharks are fast, aggressive predators with a high cruising speed as well as an incredible top speed.


The fastest shark in the world is the shortfin mako shark.  Shortfin mako sharks have a cruising speed of 31 mph but can attain 46 mph in short bursts. Shortfin mako sharks reach approximately 13 feet long and are blue on their dorsal side and white on their underside. They live in temperate and tropical oceans around the world but are an endangered species. Shortfin mako sharks eat a wide range of prey, including mackerel, tuna, porpoises, turtles, and other sharks. They use their speed to lunge upwards in the water towards their prey before their prey even notices them, biting their flanks and fins.

Summary of the 10 Fastest Sharks in the World

Some of these sharks are so fast, their cruising speeds are higher than other shark’s top speeds!

RankSharkTop Speed
1Shortfin Mako Shark46 mph
2Salmon Shark45 mph
3Blue Shark43 mph
4Great White Shark34 mph
5Grey Reef Shark31 mph
6Thresher Shark30 mph
7Nurse Shark25 mph
8Bull Shark25 mph
9Hammerhead Shark20 mph
10Tiger Shark20 mph

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Martin Prochazkacz/

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About the Author

Hannah is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on reptiles, marine life, mammals, and geography. Hannah has been writing and researching animals for four years alongside running her family farm. A resident of the UK, Hannah loves riding horses and creating short stories.

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