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Bull shark

Scientific Name - Carcharhinus leucas

The Bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas), also known as the Zambezi River shark or colloquially Zambi, is common in warm, shallow waters along coasts throughout the world. They are known for their unpredictable behavior and uniquely among the marine sharks they have a tolerance for fresh water and can travel up rivers, posing a threat to those who venture into the water. As a result they are probably responsible for the majority of attacks on humans that take place near the shore, including many attacks attributed to other species. They may be found far from the ocean but are not true freshwater sharks (unlike the river sharks of the genus Glyphis).

Scientific Classification

  • Order: Carcharhiniformes
  • Family: Carcharhinidae
  • Genus: Carcharhinus
  • Species: leucas
  • Scientific Name: Carcharhinus leucas

Life Expectancy


Dangerous to Man?

Yes - In reality this species is likely responsible for many more, and has been considered by many experts to be the most dangerous shark in the world. It's large size, occurrence in freshwater bodies, and greater abundance in close proximity to numerous human populations in the tropics makes it more of a potential threat than either the white shark or tiger shark. Since the bull shark occurs in numerous Third World regions including Central America, Mexico, India, east and west Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and South Pacific Islands, attacks are often not reported. The bull shark is also not as easily identifiable as the white or tiger shark, so is likely responsible for a large percentage of attacks with unidentified culprits.

Conservation Status

Near threatened


Up to 3.5m


One to 13 pups


Mullet, tarpon, catfishes, menhaden, gar, snook, jacks, mackerel, snappers, stingrays and juvenile sharks

Other Names

Lake Nicaragua shark, Zambezi shark




Up to 771lb