Sandbar Shark

Sandbar Shark

Carcharhinus plumbeus

DID YOU KNOW?

The Chesapeake and Delaware Bays are two of the most important nursery grounds for sandbar sharks in the western North Atlantic.

Exhibit Name and Location:
Shark Alley: Atlantic Predators

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Sandbar Shark

This species gets its common name from the sandy and muddy flats, bays and estuaries in which it's commonly found. Also known as the “brown shark along the U.S. Atlantic coast,” this species is recognized by its large first dorsal fin, large pectoral fins, and mide-dorsal ridge.

Sandbar sharks favor smooth substrate over coral reefs or other rough-bottom areas of the ocean. They are the most common species of shark found in the Chesapeake Bay!

Like many other shark species, sandbar sharks give birth to live young. Female sandbars have a range of about 1 to 14 pups per litter. This species reaches sexual maturity at around 16 years of age (but some females may mature as late as 29 years or more) and their average gestation period is about 12 months. Females reproduce every other year.


Sandbar Shark Facts

Diet

The diet of a sandbar shark typically consists of small bony fishes like menhaden, croaker, snapper, mojarras, etc, as well as crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp. They also include some small sharks as well as rays and mollusks such as octopus in the diets, smaller species of shark like bonnetheads, octopuses, rays, and some species of crustaceans like shrimp and crab.

Size

Maximum total length is 8 feet. They are born at about 20-24 inches in total length.

Range

Sandbar sharks occur in warm temperate to tropical coastal waters around the globe. In the western Atlantic, they range from New England to Brazil.

Population Status

Globally, directed shark fisheries, bycatch and shark finning have taken a toll on sandbar shark populations. They are annually either the first or second most abundant species represented in the Atlantic large coastal shark fishery. Given the prominent size of their fins, sandbar sharks are valued highly in some of the world’s largest fish markets.

As a result of the population’s quick decline in recent years, the sandbar shark has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

Predators

Besides humans, sandbar sharks have very few predators. Their slow growth, late sexual maturity and small number of offspring make this species very sensitive to overfishing and habitat degradation.

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Jack Cover
General Curator

pressroom striped fish

As the General Curator, Jack's role is to ensure that our living animal collections are thriving and diverse, to best exhibit the beauty of the wild habitats we represent here at the Aquarium. Learn More

A Note From the Caretaker

Sandbar sharks are good species to track the swim glide patter; the caudal fin or tail fin provides thrust, the large first dorsal fin provides stability, and the large pectoral fins provide lift, stability, and maneuverability. In addition, it is easy to watch the sharks eyes track things in its environment such as other animals and décor as it swims.

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