Bull Shark

Carcharhinus leucas


A bull shark.


The bull shark Carcharhinus leucas is a large species that feeds on large prey such as sea turtles, marine mammals, and other sharks, as well as on smaller fishes. Bull sharks are listed third after white and tiger sharks on the ISAF list of bites by species, and are to be considered dangerous. Bull sharks are rare in Virginia, and the probability of a bull shark attack in Virginia waters must be considered extremely low.

Maximum Size

Around 11 feet (3.4 meters) for females and 7.4 feet (3.2 m) for males.

Geographic Range

All tropical and subtropical waters. Bull sharks migrate seasonally, moving northward along the U.S. Atlantic coast in the summer and southward again when the water cools in fall. The bull shark is the only species of shark that can exist for long periods in freshwater, and penetrates long distances up large rivers. However, it is uncommon in Chesapeake Bay and other Virginia waters.


Opportunistic feeders that prey on bony fishes, other sharks, rays, sea turtles, marine mammals, and invertebrates. 

Depth Range

Found close inshore, in water ranging from 3 feet (1 meter) to at least 500 feet (152 meters).