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The Essential List of Sharks

Updated on March 29, 2016

The Essential List of 15 Sharks You Must Know

Sharks are peculiar animals in that they have both fascinated and intimidated people at the same time.

They have been roaming the seas since the age of the dinosaurs and they're most likely to stay.

In this lens here, I have compiled a rather complete list of sharks species and some beautiful photos of sharks for you, courtesy of wikipedia and other sources.

Click on each of the photos below to learn more and go to the original source of the photos!

[ Intro image(Great White) courtesy of Brian J. Skerry of NatGeo ]

Order: Lamniformes

Great White Shark, Basking Shark, Mako Shark & Sand Tiger Shark

1. Great White Shark - Carcharodon carcharias

The Great White Shark
The Great White Shark

Image courtesy of Terry Goss of Wikipedia

The most popular shark made famous by "Jaws" books and movies, The Great White Shark is found both inshore and in deep waters, in tropical and temperate seas. It is the largest Predatory shark alive today.

The Great White is well-known for recording the highest number of attacks on humans. It is a solitary predator as it always hunts alone. However, most of the time, such attacks are due to its curiosity rather than intentional. After all, its favorite meal is a good old seal, not human.

Length: Up to 6 meters!

Order: Lamniformes

1. The Great White Video

2. Basking Shark - Cetorhinus maximus

Look at the HUGE mouth!
Look at the HUGE mouth!

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

The second largest shark alive today after the Whale Shark, the Basking Shark is found in all the world's temperate oceans. The most distinctive feature of this shark is the size of its mouth when it's fully open - up to1 meter wide!

It is slow moving and generally harmless because it is a filter feeder and has anatomical adaptations to filter feeding, such as a greatly enlarged mouth and highly developed gill rakers.

The Basking Shark possesses the typical shark lamniform body plan and have been mistaken for great white sharks!

Length: Up to Over 10 meters!

Order: Lamniformes

2. Basking Shark Video

3. Mako Shark - Isurus oxyrinchus

Mako means Sharp Nose
Mako means Sharp Nose

Image courtesy of http://www.bigmarinefish.com/photos_sharks_pg1.htm...

This is the world's fastest shark, reaching the speed of an incredible recorded 50 kilometres per hour (31 mph) with bursts of up to 74 kilometres per hour (46 mph)!

The Mako is particularly fond of swordfish, which it can swallow whole! It can be found in tropical waters, and has large ragged teeth (characteristic of Lamniformes) which are sometimes sold as jewellery.

Length: Up to 4 meters

Order: Lamniformes

3. Mako Shark Video

4. Sand Tiger Shark - Carcharias taurus

The Sand Tiger Shark
The Sand Tiger Shark

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Also known as Sand Tigers and Grey Nurse Shark (not to be confused with Nurse Shark), the Sand Tiger Shark inhabits coastal waters worldwide.

The Sand Tiger lives close to the shorelines and sandy beaches of North America and has stripes on its back when it's young, hence the name sand tiger shark.

It is the most widely kept shark in public aquariums because of its large size and tolerance for captivity. In spite of their rows of ragged teeth and vicious appearance, sand tigers are actually rather docile, usually attacking humans only in self-defense.

Length: Up to 3.2 meters

Order: Lamniformes

4. The Sand Tiger Video

Order: Carcharhiniformes

Tiger Shark, Bull Shark, Hammerhead Shark, Lemon Shark, Blue Shark & 4 Reef Sharks

5. Tiger Shark - Galeocerdo cuvier

The Tiger Shark
The Tiger Shark

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

The Tiger Shark (not to be confused with the Sand Tiger above) is a solitary, mostly nocturnal hunter. It has a HUGE diet that includes a wide variety of prey, ranging from crustaceans, fish, seals, birds, squid, turtles, and sea snakes; to dolphins and even other smaller sharks.

The Tiger Shark is 2nd on the list of number of recorded attacks on humans, with the Great White being first because they often visit shallow reefs, harbors and canals, creating the potential for encounter with humans.

Length: Up to over 5 meters

Order: Carcharhiniformes

5. Tiger Shark Vs Turtles Video

6. Bull Shark - Carcharhinus leucas

The Bull Shark
The Bull Shark

Image courtesy of http://www.elasmodiver.com/Bull%20shark.htm

Like the Great White and Tiger, the Bull Shark has been known to attack humans on many occasions mainly because of where it lives. The Bull Shark can be found mainly in tropical coastal areas.

They have also been known to swim far up into rivers due to its remarkable ability to tolerate freshwater, therefore making it one of the most dangerous sharks in the world.

The Bull Shark got its name from the its stocky shape, broad, flat snout and aggressive, and unpredictable behavior, just like a bull!

Length: Up to 3.5 meters

Order: Carcharhiniformes

6. The Bull Shark Video

7. Hammerhead Shark - Sphyrna

The Hammerhead
The Hammerhead

Image courtesy of Brian J. Skerry of NatGeo

One of the most unique sharks, the Hammerhead shark is named so because the shape of its flattened and laterally extended head somewhat resembles a hammer.

There are a total of nine species of Hammerheads and the Great Hammerhead Shark is the largest species, which can grow up to a whopping 6 meters!

Hammerheads are aggressive hunters, feeding on smaller fish, octopuses, squid, and crustaceans. They usually don't attack humans intentionally, but are very defensive and will attack if provoked.

Order: Carcharhiniformes

7. Gathering of Hammerheads Video

8. Lemon Shark - Negaprion brevirostris

Look at all the Remoras!
Look at all the Remoras!

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

The Lemon Shark is called as such because, at certain depths, light interacting with the local seawater will give it a tanned and yellow, pitted appearance, like the surface of a lemon!

The Lemon Shark, often accompanied by remora fish, is found mainly along the subtropical and tropical parts of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North and South America, and around Pacific islands.

Like the Sand Tiger Shark, the Lemon Shark can cope well with captivity and thus often end up in aquariums. And interestingly, of the 22 known lemon shark attacks since 1580, none have resulted in death!

Length: Up to 4 meters

Order: Carcharhiniformes

Family: Carcharhinidae (Requeim sharks)

8. The Lemon Shark Video

9. Blue Shark - Prionace glauca

The Streamlined Blue Shark
The Streamlined Blue Shark

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

The Blue Shark is a beautifully streamlined, fast-swimming shark of the open ocean. Its distinctive blue coloration helps camouflage it as it swims near the surface. Blue sharks are voracious predators which feed mainly at night.

Its uniquely streamlined body is designed for speed and perfectly suited to the open ocean, where it hunts fast-swimming fish.They feed primarily on small fish and squid, although sometimes they're known to take larger preys.

Length: Up to 3.8 meters

Order: Carcharhiniformes

Family: Carcharhinidae (Requeim sharks)

10. Grey Reef Shark - Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos

The Grey Reef Shark
The Grey Reef Shark

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

One of the most common reef sharks in the Indo-Pacific, The Grey Reef Shark is found as far east as Easter Island and as far west as South Africa. This species is most often seen in shallow water near the drop-offs of coral reefs.

Length: Up to 2.6 meters

Order: Carcharhiniformes

Family: Carcharhinidae (Requeim sharks)

11. Caribbean Reef Shark - Carcharhinus perezii

The Caribbean Reef Shark
The Caribbean Reef Shark

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

The Caribbean Reef Shark is named so, because it is the most commonly encountered reef shark in the Caribbean Sea. It is one of the largest apex predators in the reef ecosystem, feeding on a variety of fishes and cephalopods.

Length: Up to 3 meters

Order: Carcharhiniformes

Family: Carcharhinidae (Requeim sharks)

12. Black Tip Reef Shark - Carcharhinus melanopterus

The Black Tip Reef Shark
The Black Tip Reef Shark

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Among the most abundant sharks inhabiting the tropical coral reefs of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the Black Tip Reef Shark prefers shallow, inshore waters, and its exposed first dorsal fin is a common sight in the region.

Getting its name from the black tip of its fin, the Black Tip Reef Shark feed mainly of small bony fishes, cephalopods, and crustaceans, and have also been known to feed on sea snakes and seabirds.

Length: Up to 1.6 meters

Order: Carcharhiniformes

Family: Carcharhinidae (Requeim sharks)

13. White Tip Reef Shark - Triaenodon obesus

The White Tip Reef Shark
The White Tip Reef Shark

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

One of the most common sharks on Indo-Pacific coral reefs, the White Tip Reef Sharks are found as far west as South Africa and as far east as Central America. It is typically found on or near the bottom in clear water, at a depth of 8-40 m.

During the day, the White Tip Reef Sharks spend much of their time resting inside caves. At night, they emerge to hunt bony fishes, crustaceans, and octopus in groups, their elongate bodies allowing them to force their way into crevices and holes to catch hidden prey.

Length: Up to 1.6 meters

Order: Carcharhiniformes

Family: Carcharhinidae (Requeim sharks)

Order: Orectolobiformes

Nurse Shark & Whale Shark

14. Nurse Shark - Ginglymostoma cirratum

The Nurse Shark
The Nurse Shark

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

The Nurse Shark is the only Atlantic species of a group called the Carpet Sharks(Orectolobiformes). The Carpet Sharks are so called because many members have ornate patterns reminiscent of carpets.

The Nurse Shark lives in shallow waters, where it will lie on the sandy sea bed, somewhat appearing to be asleep. However, when a fish or crab approaches, it will not hesitate to surge forward and grab hold of its prey. It is a nocturnal hunter, hunting mostly at night.

Though normally peaceful, the Nurse Shark will attack humans if provoked.

Length: Up to 4.3 meters

Order: Orectolobiformes (Carpet Sharks)

14. Nurse Shark Filmed Video

15. Whale Shark - Rhincodon typus

Largest Fish In The World
Largest Fish In The World

Image courtesy of Colin Parker, My Shot @ NatGeo News

The Whale Shark is the largest species of all fish still alive today. Despite its humongous size, it is mostly harmless to humans as it is a slow-moving filter feeder, just like the Basking Shark shown earlier.

Although feeding mainly on plankton (microscopic plants and animals), the Whale Shark has also been filmed (BBC's Planet Earth) to feed on a school of small fishes, as well as clouds of eggs and sperms as a result of a mass spawning fish shoal!

The whale shark is found in tropical and warm oceans and lives in the open sea with a lifespan of about 70 years. The largest confirmed individual had a length of 12.65 metres (41.50 ft) and a weight of more than 21.5 tonnes (47,000 lb)!

Order: Orectolobiformes (Carpet Sharks)

15. The Whale Shark Video

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    • Lemming13 profile image

      Lemming13 5 years ago

      What a super, informative lens - really good resource. Congratulations.