Sharks are among ruthless sea dwellers that most humans fear. Its fin lies just above the water surface, circling the beaches would definitely send chills to our hearts.

Many shark species live in the oceans and the seas. They belong to the class Chondrichthyes and entail all the fish species, including a skeleton made up of cartilage. 

Some shark species are the most significant and most dangerous, while few are non-harmful. 

Table of Contents

1. Whale shark

Whale shark
Whale shark | Image Credit – Flickr

Whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is one of the largest shark species and among giant fish species all across the globe. 

It possesses 65 feet and 75000 pounds in weight. Whale sharks have regularly arranged light spots in their back with blue, gray, or brown colors. 

The primary exciting trait about the whale shark is they consume on some tiniest aquatic living creatures such as plankton and crustaceans despite having their higher body size.

The primary distribution of this shark entails the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. It belongs to the family Rhincodontidae.

Being primarily sighted in the warm waters, they mostly remain between 26.50C and 300C. 

They devour most of their time on the ocean surface known as the epipelagic zone. The young male shark mostly prefers to live in the coastal feeding areas. 

It could be one reason there is minimal information considering the female shark and its reproduction process. 

It does not exist in the Mediterranean areas, whose most sightings entail the tropical and temperate waters.

For their prey, they use giant gaping mouths. Even today, scientists are unaware of the tiny teeth rowed inside their mouths. They are ‌mobile.

2. Basking shark

Basking Shark
Basking shark | Image Credit – Wikimedia

Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is the second-largest shark species. It’s a second giant among the fish species throughout the globe. 

The term ‘basking’ embeds this shark species since it often visualizes basking at the ocean surface.

Their body length grows up to 26 feet and possesses a weight of up to 5 tons. They, too, feed upon tiny aquatic creatures like the whale shark. 

The distribution of the basking shark is widespread in temperate waters. Their presence dominates all the globe’s oceans. During winter, they may migrate long distances upon their need.

It migrates a thousand miles to catch the suitable plankton bloom for it. Since they rely on the planktons for feeding, it needs to filter a significant amount of water every day.

The prey mechanism by this species looks pretty unique. It is unique in that once it traps the prey in the gill rakers, it consumes by slowly swimming forward, and through their mouths, they filter the water. 

Later, the water reaches out of their gills. Naturally, it is ovoviviparous. There are no curved teeth of this species. 

It no longer uses the teeth to capture the food it finds. It is calm and in close contact with the divers and the snorkelers.

Some scientists predicted that the new young shark could feed unfertilized eggs as their critical food source. 

Because of specialized organs known as gill rakers in the basking shark, it assists hugely in capturing and directing its food towards the throat. 

This unique trait of the sharking fish permits them to feed by swimming with their mouth open even in the water.

3. White shark (shark from ‘JAWS’)

White shark
White shark | Image Credit – Flickr

The white shark listed by the name (Carcharodon carcharias) is the great white shark. 

It occupies among the most feared living creatures worldwide in the aquatic ecosystem. The growth of the body could reach 20 feet long and over 4000 pounds. 

They seem very curious. Astoundingly, this species often investigates its prey before consuming. 

Upon capturing the prey, it releases the story when it realizes it is unpalatable. Such a unique trait is very rare among the other shark species. 

The crucial habitat of the white shark entails the temperate coastal waters, which comprise large numbers of marine mammals and fishes. Its distribution ranges from the western United States to Africa. 

The great white shark possesses excellent sight and strong muscles. To sum up, it comprises a sharply pointed snout, the large dorsal fins. 

Surprising to reveal, they hunt their prey by ambush. It tries to catch the prey by surprise, and once the prey is close, it does a sudden fatal bite.

They are supposed to be the opportunistic scavengers that feed on the carcasses of the basking shark and the whales.

4. Blue shark

Blue shark
Blue shark | Image Credit – Flickr

The term blue shark (Prionace glauca) was inferred by its body features since it possesses dark blue at the backside. Often, it holds large eyes and a small mouth.

The primary distribution of this species entails the tropical and temperate oceans worldwide. 

It is a game fish because of its beauty and speed. It looks pretty enough with the attractive deep blue back and the white belly. 

The length of the blue shark ranges from 1.7 meters to 2.2 meters. It holds roughly 206 kg. It is sexually dimorphic. 

The principal diet of this species includes sea birds, squid, crustaceans, and smaller fishes. They feed on the dead whale carcasses.

Despite its unaggressive nature, the blue shark has been a human attack. Concerning the physical morphology of the blue shark, the females are slightly larger and comprise thicker skin than the male blue shark. They survive up to 15 or 16 years of age in the wild.

The blue shark covers several trips across the basins; thus, they naturally migrate. They use their large pectoral fins to conserve energy during their migration and ride in the long currents. 

Principally, the primary intention of the blue shark for the long route migration is in search of food and the potential mating partner. Their reproduction occurs via internal fertilization. 

During mating, the male blue shark may bite the females. The thick protective skin in females prevents male biting when both of them are in close contact while mating.

5. Tiger shark

Tiger shark
Tiger shark | Image Credit – Flickr

The tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) belongs to the Carcharhinidae family. The tiger shark introduced it because of its dark stripe body resembling the tiger’s pattern during the juvenile stage. 

It is endemic to the tropical and temperate waters all over the globe. They prefer solitary. It is highly nocturnal. 

Because of the unique stripes trait, its enormous body is easily identified, comprising over 16.5 feet during the mature stage. The body weight covers roughly over 2000 pounds.

The longer fin’s sharp teeth harbor the body parts of the tiger shark with a yellowish-white underbelly. It is distributed along the coastline, having shallow water. 

The primary prey upon which the tiger shark hunts are small fish varieties, seabirds, sea turtles, crustaceans, and much more. 

It too feeds upon anything that roams around the water closer to it. Occasionally, the giant tiger sharks could even consume the smaller tiger sharks upon their prey lacking.

Because of the apex predator, there are almost no natural predators of the tiger shark. But the record reveals the orca as its major predator. 

The tiger sharks’ habitat entails waters where humans do swim. It is why the deepwater tiger shark encounter with humans is higher.

The fascinating trait that this species belongs to is that its strip lines fade away once it reaches maturity. It is the human-eating shark. The tiger shark holds excellent sightings and senses.

6. Bull shark

Bull shark
Bull shark | Image Credit – Flickr

Bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) is the deadliest shark and leads to one of the top three species in terms of human attack in the ocean. The physical appearance of this species entails a blunt snout and a gray back. 

Nearby the shore, they prefer warm, swallow, and even murky waters. Regarding the length of this species, it comprises approximately 11.5 feet and weighs roughly 500 pounds.

Naturally, they are very aggressive. The scientists lament the thriving of the bull sharks for a prolonged period in the freshwater. 

The actual food of the bull species includes dolphins, marine animals, birds, other shark species, and turtles.

Except for mating, they rarely will be together. The bull shark’s life span ranges from 12 to 16 years. 

The bull shark comprises special glands and kidney functions that keep the salt from their body in the freshwater.

Humans have recorded most encounters with the bull shark because of their broad ability to move quickly between freshwater and shallow water. 

Undoubtedly, it has increased the chance of fatality in the humans in the rivers; instead, the other species in the ocean. 

Their mating system occurs via internal fertilization, which involves giving birth. It is to be noted that this species never connects to its young through a placenta. 

While concerning the bull shark, it is foremost to know that it takes only one exploratory bite. 

Later on, it ignores the humans for the prey. But because of their extensive size, even one bull shark bite could cause fatality to humans.

7. Greenland shark

Greenland shark
Greenland shark | Image Credit – Flickr

As inferred by the biological name Somniosus microcephalus, Greenland sharks ‌inhabit the cold and the deep waters preferred in the North Atlantic and the Arctic oceans. 

The primary food component of the Greenland shark entails the seals and the fish’s species. 

Despite their slow gradual growth, the shark could grow up to 24 feet and weigh up to 2645 pounds, as revealed by the Canadian research team by St. Lawrence Shark Observatory.

Research estimates the long life span of the Greenland species of at least 272 years. They do not reach the sexual maturity stage until they reach roughly 150 years old.

It is the longest living vertebrate that is ever known. Greenland sharks are abundant in the cold waters of Iceland and Greenland. Being ovoviviparous, it produces around ten offspring at once. 

They are very slow-moving creatures and rarely encountered by human beings. Possessing predatory nature, ‌the Greenland shark has been very independent since birth.

8. Hammerhead Shark

Hammerhead Shark
Hammerhead Shark | Image Credit – Flickr

Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna sp.) links with the family Sphyrnidae. It has an extended head resembling the hammer end, preferably a cephalofoil. Because of this, the term ‘hammerhead’ is embedded in this shark species. 

The flattened hammerhead is helpful to sight under 360 degrees. It holds a length of 29 feet. Their wide eyes allow for their perfect visual ranges compared to other shark species.

It spends much time in the shallower regions, followed by the warmer waters and coastlines. 

It has a unique trait of the head and the small body parts quickly. The hammerhead shark forms the most extensive group along the coasts of South America and Africa.

Its prey includes octopus, stingrays, several fish species, and crustaceans. Cannibalism seems frequent in the giant hammerhead shark. 

The most fantastic character of this species is that it uses its head as a weapon and to pin the prey on the ocean floor. 

Despite their tiny mouths, their bites are potent. It tries to attack the species which encroaches on its territory.

The hammerhead, which the species comprises, permits them to seek above and below. 

The hammerhead shark’s interesting character includes electro-receptive sensory pores, allowing them to sweep the ocean floor to grab the prey effectively.

9. Bamboo shark

Bamboo shark
Bamboo shark | Image Credit – Flickr

Bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium sp.) is abundant in the Indonesian coastal areas. It belongs to a small, bottom-dwelling, and gradual mobile species. 

A fascinating trait this species entails is their tail is longer than the whole length of the body. 

They usually feed on the invertebrates and the small fishes which roam in the warmer and the swallow waters. 

Regarding their size, they are roughly 27-41 inches. Bamboo sharks are harmless to humans. They hunt at night in the wilderness. 

The primary specialty of their prey is that they are involved in grasping and crushing out the softer prey. It lives in the coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean. 

The bamboo shark grabs a significant trait in the electroreceptors on their snouts. These receptors aid them in locating the prey, which buries either in the sand or the mud.

The brown-banded bamboo lives in shallow waters. The female brown-banded bamboo shark holds a unique trait to store the sperm for around 45 months. It provides aid in fertilizing an egg even when they are not ready for mating.

10. Nurse shark

Nurse shark
Nurse shark | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons

Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) is a species that thrives on the ocean bottom and seeks the caves and the crevices for their shelter. It belongs to the family Ginglymostomatidae. 

The distribution of the nurse shark ranges from the Atlantic Ocean to Rhode Island to Brazil and Africa off the coast. Its distribution ranges from Mexico to Peru in the Pacific Ocean.

It is less harmful to humans and used for research. The nurse shark moves gradually in the ocean bottom. 

Their size comprises 7.5 to 9.75 feet and weighs 200 to 300 pounds. Nurse sharks contain serrated teeth with solid jaws that assist them in crushing and consuming the shellfish and the corals. 

Apart from these, they consumed fish, squid, and shrimp. The tail of this species possesses distinctive tail fins which cover roughly one-fourth of the total length of the body.

Their eyes are tiny, and the roundheads aid in searching the prey. The nurse shark spends its daylight hour resting in the caves and under ledges. They seem more active during the night rather than the day. 

They swallow their prey fully. As a self-defense mechanism, it could attack the swimmers or the divers who disturb them by waking them while resting. 

The nurse shark is among the frequently observed shark species in the coral and rock reefs of the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans.

Comparison Table

Shark speciesSizeWeightLocation/HabitatUnique trait
Whale shark65 feet 75000 poundsIndian, Atlantic, and Pacific OceansDespite its large size, it feeds on the tiniest aquatic  creatures
Basking shark26 feet 5 tonsTemperate waters throughout the globe oceansFilter water amount every day
White20 feet Over 4000 poundsThe United States to AfricaStrong muscles and the excellent sights
Blue1.7 to 2.2 meters455 poundsCoastline having shallow waterHighly migratory and despite its unaggressive nature,  it bites humans sometimes
Tiger16.5 feetOver 2000 poundsTropical and temperate waters worldwideApex predator, strip lines begin to fade away upon maturity stage
BullRoughly 11.5 feet500 poundsWarm, shallow, and murky watersTop three species in terms of the human bite in the ocean
Greenlands24 feet2645 poundsNorth Atlantic, and Arctic oceans, cold waters of Iceland and GreenlandThe longest living vertebrate
Hammerhead29 feet    –Warm waters and coastlinesPossess electro receptive sensory pores and use its head as a weapon
Bamboo    27-41 inchesIndonesian coastal areas, warm and shallow waterThe tail is longer than the whole length of a body and has electro receptive sensory pores
Nurse7.5 to 9.75 feet200-300 poundsBrazil, Africa, Mexico, and Peru (Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans)Distinctive tail fins

(Last Updated on April 20, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Kalpana Ghimire holds a post-graduate degree in Environmental Science from Nepal. She possesses numerous research experiences working in water pollution, community forestry, environment conservation status, and wildlife ecology. She was an internee in the Department of Environment (EIA monitoring and auditing section) under the Government of Nepal. Kalpana Ghimire is an avid traveler, an enthusiastic wildlife researcher, and has a huge passion for working in the environment sector. She loves far traveling to the natural areas, conducting field wildlife research and reading the novels.