Sharks of Virginia

Data from shark research at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science show that sandbar sharks, smooth dogfish, Atlantic sharpnose sharks, and dusky sharks are the most common sharks in mid-Atlantic waters. Learn more about these and other local shark species here.

All shark illustrations © Marc Dando
Sandbar Shark

The most common large shark of the Virginia region. Chesapeake Bay is one of its most important nursery grounds in the western Atlantic.

Smooth Dogfish
Smooth Dogfish

A common to abundant seasonal visitor in summer and fall to lower Chesapeake Bay.

Atlantic Sharpnose Shark
Atlantic Sharpnose Shark

The Atlantic sharpnose is a year-round resident of the South Carolina and Florida coasts, as well as the Gulf of Mexico.

Dusky Shark
Dusky Shark

Heavy fishing pressure on this species has reduced its numbers alarmingly. lt is now only a rare event to see a dusky shark in the Virginia region.

Blacktip Shark

Migrates north seasonally as far as Cape Cod and is common year round in the Southeast U.S.

Spinner Shark
Spinner Shark

Known to form schools and often makes vertical spinning leaps through schools of fish and out of the water.

Scalloped Hammerhead

These fish arrive in Virginia coastal waters in June, and migrate south along the coast from August to October.

Bull Shark

Bull sharks are uncommon in Chesapeake Bay and other Virginia waters.

Tiger Shark

Occasional visitors to Virginia waters and are usually found at least 10-20 miles offshore.