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Most common sharks found in the waters of Tampa Bay

As the months get warmer, the waters of Tampa Bay will increase with visitors both on and under the surface.
Credit: Paul Dabill Photography
Blacktip sharks

Baby shark doo doo doo doo doo doo… Now that I’ve got that song stuck in your head, did you know baby sharks are actually called pups?

And, Tampa Bay is quite the nursery for shark pups. As the months begin to warm, the bay will increase with visitors both on and under the surface. Sharks inhabit the bay year-round, but between the spring and summer months, the bay becomes a feeding ground and nursery to keep the young away from bigger predators. 

There are about a dozen shark species that frequent Tampa Bay, and the most-common species are; blacktip, bonnethead, great hammerhead, bull, lemon, nurse and tiger sharks. 

Blacktip Shark: Blacktip sharks live in coastal waters of ocean shores, bays and estuaries. These sharks average between 5-6 feet in length and are most commonly found along the Gulf of Mexico coast. They are considered to be threatened with near extinction due to overfishing and habitat destruction.  

Bonnethead Shark: Considered to be harmless to humans, bonnethead sharks are part of the hammerhead species and average about 3-4 feet in length. With a shovel-shaped head, these sharks spend most of their time in estuaries and shallow bays.

Great Hammerhead Shark: As the largest of the hammerhead species, these sharks can reach 20 feet in length. Great hammerheads are more commonly found in South Florida but can make their way up to the bay waters. 

Bull Shark: Known to be highly aggressive, bull sharks average 7-11 feet in length. They enjoy living near high-population areas like tropical shorelines and are considered to be one of the three most aggressive shark species in the world.

Lemon Shark: These sharks average about 4-7 feet in length. They enjoy shallow waters and are highly common in the bay and Gulf waters. While mostly easy going, lemon sharks can act upon bursts of speed and aggression. 

Nurse Shark: Known for its almost catfish look, the nurse shark is a slow-moving bottom-dweller that is almost completely harmless to humans. The nurse shark ranges from 7-9 feet in length and enjoys spending time in warm, shallow waters. 

Tiger Shark: The tiger shark got its name due to the dark vertical stripes found on the juveniles which fade as the species gets older. While tiger sharks have the reputation of being man eaters, these 10-14 foot sharks tend to spend their time in subtropical waters. 

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