Sharks still tend to have a bad reputation around the world, with many people fearing the ocean because of them. But did you know, you only have a 1 in 11.5 million chance of being attacked by a shark? And a 1 in 264.1 million chance of being killed by one.
What’s important to remember is that sharks kill on average 10 people per year, but it is estimated that people kill over 100 million sharks are killed in the same amount of time.
16 Different Types of Shark Species
As scuba divers, we are often on the lookout for these amazing creatures, never avoiding them. How many types of sharks can you check off your list of having seen? We won’t be able to cover them all but here are some of our favorite shark species.
1. Angel Shark
critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Angel sharks are sometimes confused with stingrays because they have flat bodies and stick close to the seabed. The greyish-brown spotted skin makes for excellent camouflage in the ocean sand, the perfect hiding place to catch crustaceans and mollusks.
2. Cookiecutter Shark
Amazing facts about sharks should include the cookiecutter shark, or cigar shark. They are parasitic, meaning they feed on larger marine wildlife, even larger sharks, by sinking their teeth in and grabbing a small round bite.
3. Great White Shark
The great white shark (together with tiger sharks) have a reputation for the most shark attacks on humans. They are stealthy hunters and one of the few sharks that can lift their head above the surface.
4. Basking Shark
with their population trend decreasing.
Basking sharks are one of the largest sharks you can spot in the water – adults can be 30 feet long and 8000 pounds heavy. Their most distinctive feature is the huge mouth opening (over 3 feet!) which they gape open to trapping plankton.
6. Lemon Shark
This shallow water loving shark uses the yellow coloring on its back as a camouflage near sandy coasts. They are not threatening to humans but unfortunately, the lemon shark might make it on the endangered shark species list soon.
7. Blue Shark
The blue shark gets it name from the blue tone in their skin and is known for their speed. This is a pelagic species that is rarely seen near coasts but one of the most abundant sharks with habitats in most temperature and tropical waters.
5. Hammerhead Shark
critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Hammerhead sharks are one of the most recognizable because of their toy hammer-shaped heads. There are several hammerhead species like the scalloped hammerhead shark and great hammerhead shark.
8. Leopard Shark
The leopard shark has large dark spots spread across its body. You can only find them swimming in the Pacific Ocean, along the US and Mexican coast.
9. Mako Shark
There are two types of mako sharks; shortfin mako shark and longfin mako shark. Their name comes from the Maori word meaning man-eater but sadly, it is humans eating them that puts them close to extinction.
10. Bronze Whaler Shark
The bronze whaler shark is recognized by the copper and grey coloring of their skin. These sharks prefer to live in groups in the deepest parts of the Atlantic Ocean but they don’t swim too far down.
11. Sand Tiger Shark
The sand tiger shark, or grey nurse shark, lives in shallow waters with coral reefs. They have a unique behavior; they gulp in air at the surface, not to breathe but to trap air in their stomach for better buoyancy.
12. Spinner Shark
You can spot a spinner shark feeding itself by spinning through a school of fish. This unusual way to catch prey makes them a coveted sight for scuba divers.
13. Bull Shark
Bull sharks, or Zambezi shark, is one of the shark species that has adapted to freshwater systems. They are commonly spotted in shallow water near tropical coasts and sometimes in brackish estuaries or rivers.
14. Thresher Shark
When you learn about shark week, you learn about the effects of overfishing and the thresher shark is one of the victims. Their most obvious feature is the very long pointed caudal fin tips.
15. Whale Shark
The largest shark alive today is the whale shark. They have flat whale-like heads with spots and stripes on their body and gill rakers that act as filter feeders for plankton.
16. Bamboo Shark
The bamboo shark, also known as the carpet shark, lives in the Pacific and Indian oceans. It is a very small species, easily identified by the thick bands on their long round bodies.
How many different types of sharks are there?
There are over 400 shark species still alive today. They swim in oceans all around the world and come in all sizes.
What is the smallest shark?
The dwarf lanternshark currently holds the world record for smallest shark. Males only grow to approximately 6.3-6.7 inches and females are slightly larger, around 7.4-7.8 inches.
Dwarf lanternsharks are a very rare species with their only known habitat being a small area off the coast of Venezuela and Colombia. They swim at a depth of 928-1440 feet.
What is the biggest shark?
Whale sharks are the largest sharks in the world. Adults can be anywhere between 22-55 feet long and weigh as much as 15 tons.
Whale sharks are found around the world but they do prefer warmer waters. Some of the more popular dive sites for spotting the whale shark are Mexico, the Philippines, Maldives, Tanzania, and Mozambique.
How can you identify a shark?
You can identify a shark by looking at the most distinct features: size, color, and the shape of their head and fins. Before going diving, look up which types of sharks are most common in the area and try to memorize their features.