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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