Bull Shark Bite Strength | Bull Shark Bite Pressure PSI

Of all sharks, the bull shark can tout a bite pressure PSI among the highest of all species.

According to marine biologist Philip Motta of the University of South Florida in Tampa and his colleague Maria Habegger, pound-for-pound, a bull shark of the same size would have a stronger bite. Motta and his colleagues measured bite forces from 13 shark species. (“It’s not easy,” he says.) In a direct comparison, they report that a 9-foot-long bull shark has a bite force of 478 pounds, while an 8-foot-long great white has a bite with 360 pounds of force.

“An 18-foot-long great white will still have a more powerful bite than an 11-foot bull shark, just by virtue of its size,” Motta says. “But pound-for-pound, a bull shark of the same size would have a stronger bite.”

Habegger told BBC Nature, “We expect strong bite force values in the larger sharks that occupy top positions in the food chain, for example, the great hammerhead, great white shark, tigers and bull sharks.”

“These species usually prey upon large prey items such as dolphins, turtles and other sharks, so high bite forces are expected due to the mechanical demands of this type of prey,” she continued.

To determine the relative value of bite force, pound per pound, the researchers calculated a way to remove body size from the equation.

The maximum bite force for adult bull sharks is 6,000N. The researchers noted that this is much greater than the force required to kill and eat prey.


Marinesciencetoday.com/2012/10/15/bull-sharks-bite-the-hardest/ Sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0944200612000670 USAtoday.com/story/tech/sciencefair/2012/10/19/bull-shark-bite-biggest/1641367/
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Bull Sharks’ Average Lifespan

-According to the National Wildlife Federation, bull sharks’ average lifespan is 12 years in the wild. Bull sharks usually live for 12 to 16 years, but one bull shark in captivity was recorded living to 30 years old. According to the University of Florida, bull shark growth rates have been calculated by Thorson and Lacy using tag recapture information in Lake Nicaragua. They estimated that in the first two years, the growth rate is about 16-18 cm per year.

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Bull Shark Species Overview by Florida Fish & Wildlife FWC

Below is an overview of the Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas) from the Florida Fish and Wlidlife Commission (FWC).

Bull Shark Appearance

  • Back is pale to dark gray, fading to a white belly
  • Snout bluntly rounded, much shorter than width of mouth
  • Large triangular first dorsal fin; begins over or just behind pectoral fin insertion
  • No interdorsal ridge

Similar Species: Lemon shark, N. brevirostris (first and second dorsal fins nearly equal in size); Caribbean reef shark, C. perezii (has interdorsal ridge); and sandbar shark, C. plumbeus (first dorsal fin starts before pectoral fin insertion)

Bull Shark’s Average Size: Up to 9 or 10 feet 

Bull Shark Habitats

Estuarine, nearshore and offshore waters 

Bull Shark Behavior

One of the few shark species that may inhabit freshwater, sometimes venturing hundreds of miles inland via coastal river systems; more aggressive than most shark species

Additional Information

Bull Shark Fishing Recreational Regulations

SOURCE: https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/saltwater/sharks/bull-shark/

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The Largest Bull Sharks on Record

Several categories exist for the largest bull shark on record. Among the largest caught without a rod and reel, the University of Miami’s Dr. Neil Hammerschlag caught a 1,000-pound bull shark in the Florida Keys. The massive female bull shark measured 10 feet (3 m) long and weighed an estimated, over 1,000 pounds (454 kilograms). According to the International Game Fish Association, the largest bull shark caught on a rod and reel was  697 3/4 pounds in Malindi, Kenya, in 2001. The angler was named Ronald de Jager. Non-Angler involved categories include a larger specimen. Measuring at 13′, 1″, the largest living bull shark on scientific record was temporarily captured and observed by research scientists in Africa.

Below is a description from a member of the crew, Steve Faulconer:   

“I write to give you the details of our research expedition to the Breede River during the week January 19-25. The purpose of the expedition was to determine whether reports of bull sharks in the Breede River could be confirmed. Scientifically, confirmed reports would be extremely relevant on a global scale as this would represent the most south-westerly distribution of bull sharks in Africa.

“Joining us on the expedition was Dr. Steve Lamberth and his team from MCM, Hennie Papenfuss from Big Fish Safari and a team of four from SASC. We fished for three days with no luck & were rewarded on the 4th day when Hennie caught a bull shark on his line. After an hour and a half struggle with the fish (during which it towed him2.5km further upstream), Hennie managed to tire her enough to bring her close to shore for landing. Our team then brought her carefully to the shore, where we were able to collect all the required data.”

“We measured her, tagged her with two acoustic continuous tags and one spaghetti tag, and gathered genetic samples in order to determine whether bull sharks in the Breede River represent a distinct population from those found elsewhere in South Africa. She is a world-record breaking shark measuring 4 metres total length, weighing in the vicinity of 550-600kg. This is the largest bull shark known to science – the previous maximum size was thought to be 3.5 metres TL. We also suspect she was heavily pregnant and may very well be using the Breede as a pupping ground. Following the tagging, we proceeded to track her for 43 continuous hours. She spent the majority of the time in the estuary, with only a few hours in the surf zone just outside the river mouth.”

Other observations of note include a team of marine scientists in Costa Rica who reportedly observed bull sharks over 4 meters long.

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Can Bull Sharks Survive in Freshwater?

Bull sharks can survive in freshwater and frequent inlets and rivers throughout the world, including the Mississippi River, the Amazon River, Zambezi River, Nile River among many other bodies of water. Bull Sharks are able to adapt to freshwater due to their rectal gland, which can excrete salt from the body and controls their salinity level.

Notes from the University of Florida regarding Bull Sharks in Freshwater: “They have been reported 3700 km (2220 mi) up the Amazon River in Peru, and over 3000 km (1800 mi) up the Mississippi River, in Illinois. A population in Lake Nicaragua (Central America) was once thought to be landlocked, but it was subsequently determined that they gain access to the ocean through a system of rivers and estuaries. In the western Atlantic, bull sharks migrate north along the coast of the U.S. during summer, swimming as far north as Massachusetts, and then return to tropical climates when the coastal waters cool (Simpfendorfer and Burgess 2009).”

Nicarauga.com devoted a page to covering the bull sharks native to Lake Nicaragua, and it became the second most popular page on the entire site about the country. Below is an excerpt:

“Despite being a freshwater lake, Lake Nicaragua contains sharks that have adapted to freshwater life. This originally led scientists to believe that, due to the lake’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the area that the lake currently occupies was previously a giant bay. The theory for the presence of these sharks was that over a period of time, the gap closed forming a lake and trapping the sharks which then adapted as the water as it gradually changed from saline to fresh. Recent studies, however, have shown that the sharks have more than likely traveled up the San Juan River which connects the lake to the Caribbean Sea, jumping upstream in much the same way as salmon do.

Although scientist initially thought that the Lake Nicaragua shark was a separate species, it has been discovered that they are in fact bull sharks, so named because of their broad flat snout, stocky shape and notoriously unpredictable, aggressive behavior. This shark, which is called the Nicaragua shark in Nicaragua, is also known as the Zambezi or Zambi shark in Africa and Sundarbans or Ganges shark in India as well as a variety of names in other parts of the world.”

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Yes – Bull Sharks Are Born Live

YES – Bull Sharks are born live. After a gestation period of give birth to well-developed, live young. After gestating for 12 months, a female bull shark may give birth to litter that numbers as many as 13 live young. At birth, a newborn bull shark is already capable of free swimming and viviparous. The average length of a bull shark pup is 28 inches (2 feet, 4 inches) long at birth.

Lagoons, rivers, canals and creeks are common habitats for bull shark mothers to deliver pups. Moving inshore decreases the odds of bull shark pups encountering many potential large predators they would otherwise encounter offshore. In Florida, recreational fishermen often encounter juvenile bull sharks in Atlantic Intracoastal waterway, including the Indian River Lagoon, which straddles the Atlantic coastline for 155 miles. Bull sharks in South Florida canals have been observed and documented.

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