The bull shark is notorious for its distinct appearance, size and reputation. Many experts believe that the bull shark is the most dangerous in the world.
In this post, we’re going to take a deep dive into the bull sharks’ aggressiveness, and answer a question we find many of our readers asking. Are bull sharks aggressive?
In a nutshell, bull sharks are incredibly aggressive and have been known to attack people. But not on purpose, and for a different reason than you may think.
Let’s get into it…
What Makes Bull Sharks Aggressive?
Bull sharks are naturally aggressive animals, and they need to be in order to survive and thrive in the waters.
Aggression in sharks is not the same as aggression in humans. Sharks need to have a level of aggression in order for them to thrive in the wild.
It’s easy to look at aggression in the context of a human, which is rightly associated with negative and dangerous behavior.
But a shark’s aggression is different, they are carnivores that do not have the luxury to walk to a grocery store and pick up their weekly shop.
Aggression is needed in wild animals to hunt, survive, breed, and protect themselves.
It has also been argued that bull sharks have the highest amount of testosterone, which is what makes bull sharks so aggressive in comparison to other species.
Bull sharks are solo predators that mainly eat fish, but they have also been known to go after Stingrays, Sea Turtles, and even other Sharks.
They can reach speeds of up to 11mph in small bursts and are often found calmly swimming near the bottom of the water.
Female bull sharks can grow up to 11.5 feet long and can weigh up to 500 pounds, which is larger than males and they have a life expectancy of around 15 years.
The reason they are known to be the most dangerous shark to humans is that they are able to live in saltwater and in freshwater.
This means they can swim upstream and migrate up rivers, often bringing them into close contact with humans.
Bull sharks can be even be found in people’s backyards, especially in the likes of Florida and The Gulf of Mexico.
Are Bull Sharks Aggressive Towards Humans?
Bull sharks are not specifically aggressive towards humans, but they are one of the most likely sharks for humans to be attacked by.
The reason for this is that they are able to live in freshwater and saltwater alike, which means they are coming into contact with humans on a much more regular basis than say Great White Sharks.
Bull sharks, like other species of shark, are very intelligent. They understand that humans are not on the menu and that we are not food for them.
One of the reasons bull sharks attack humans is because they hunt in murky, shallow waters where they rely on their eyesight.
In this environment, a human could be mistaken for prey, and the bull shark may strike. Bull sharks are not particularly picky eaters, they will often eat anything that they see.
This includes Dolphins, Fish, and other Sharks, so the first opportunity they get where they suspect they may have an opportunity for food, they take it.
The sad reality is that bull sharks often swim upstream and mistake humans for prey, resulting in a lot of attacks.
Bull shark attacks on humans are accidental, and as they coexist in the same environment sometimes, these accidents can be quite common in some parts of the world.
How Many Bull Sharks Have Attacked Humans?
The Florida Museum created a list of shark species that have made the most attacks on humans.
According to that list, the bull shark has made a total of 121 attacks since 1580 with 26 of them being fatal.
In comparison, the Great White Shark has made 358 attacks with 57 being fatal and the Tiger Shark has made 138 attacks with 36 being total.
This puts the bull shark in third place to the most human attacks from sharks, making the bull shark a dangerous shark to run into.
Can Bull Sharks Be Friendly?
Bull sharks are not particularly friendly towards humans, and if they feel threatened they won’t hesitate to strike.
These sharks are large, boisterous, and aggressive, they won’t think twice about stealing a spear fisherman’s catch.
If a bull shark feels provoked or threatened, then it may become aggressive.
Although bull sharks can be tenacious and aggressive, they are relatively safe for humans to dive with providing they can see us.
The difficulties come in brackish, murky waters when bull sharks mistake humans for prey, which results in fatalities and attacks.
Many divers all around the world have some amazing experiences with friendly bull sharks. As with all wild animals, precautions must be taken, but if done correctly diving with bull sharks is typically safe.
Some diving centers around the world actually offer the opportunity to go diving with bull sharks, and they take people on trips out to sea to do exactly that.
Are Bull Sharks More Aggressive Than Great Whites?
Great White sharks are larger, faster, and stronger than bull sharks, but the bull shark is more aggressive and dangerous to humans.
Due to the bull sharks’ aggressive nature, an attack from a bull is more likely than a great white.
Shark attacks in general are rare, they are smarter than we give them credit for them, and attacks often only occur when the shark mistakes people for prey.
Great Whites must stick to the ocean, as they are unable to swim into freshwater without complications.
Meanwhile, bull sharks can go from marine to freshwater with no problems at all and can be found thousands of miles upstream.
Are bull sharks aggressive? Absolutely!
They are considered one of, if not the most aggressive shark on the planet. They are incredibly powerful creatures that rely on their amazing senses and eyesight to hunt.
However, sadly the number of bull shark attacks and fatalities is high as they are able to swim upstream and into freshwater where many humans reside.
Hopefully, this post has been helpful and you’ve learned something new about the bull sharks aggression today.
If you have enjoyed this article, feel free to stick around and learn more about the impressive bull shark.
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Hi, I’m George – the founder of MarinePatch. I created this blog as marine wildlife has been my passion for many years and I’ve spent decades learning and dedicating myself to documenting all I can about the topic.