Florida Wildlife - Sharks

Off Florida’s Coast

The warm seas off the coast of Florida are ideal territory for a wide range of sharks, and here we give a brief description  of a few of the more common;

Bull Shark – commonly to be seen off both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of Florida, they are also unusually comfortable in freshwater and have been spotted hundreds of miles inland having travelled via the river system. They can grow to a maximum of 11-12 feet, and will live for 25 years or more, reaching maturity at around 14 years of age. They account  for a high proportion of attacks on humans (around 30%) and are particularly persistent once an initial attack has taken place.

Blacktip Shark – Common off Florida’s coasts, they are an active species often appearing close to the surface or on occasion breaking the surface, completing a couple of spins  before re-entering the water. Smaller (max 6 feet) and shorter lived (10 years) than the Bull Shark, it is also very popular for its commercial opportunities and has been known to attack bathers.

Great hammerhead Shark – larger than the other two species at around 20 feet, living for over 20 years, this species is also considered dangerous to humans ranking at number seven in the list of sharks attacks.

Tiger Shark – found in numbers off Florida’s coast, this species can grow to 18 feet, and is ranked just behind the Great White Shark for the number of attacks on humans worldwide.

Nurse Shark – a smaller (9 feet) shark which can usually be found moving slowly if not actually stationary on the sea bottom, where it finds the bulk of its food sources. Not normally implicated in attacks on humans, unless provoked.

Shark Attacks

Statistically, your chances of falling victim to a shark attack are vanishingly small, but this does not reduce peoples fear and fascination with the creatures.  But if you are to suffer a shark attack Florida is the likeliest place on the planet with approaching 300 attacks in the 10 years leading up to 2013, with the coast around Daytona Beach being the focal point.

To minimise your risk of being attacked follow the advice from the experts at Florida State University;

  • Remain in groups as sharks prefer to pick on isolated individuals
  • Keep close to the shore
  • Stay out of the water during the night or dawn or dusk as sharks are particularly active then
  • Stay out of the water if you have a cut
  • Don’t wear brightly coloured clothing
  • Avoid splashing excessively as this will attract unwanted shark attention
  • Stay away from sandbanks and related sharp drops as these are favoured locations for sharks to patrol
  • Keep pets out of the water as they exhibit many of the dangerous behaviours described above


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