are there sharks in the mediterranean sea
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Are There Sharks in the Mediterranean Sea? A Detailed Guide

The Mediterranean Sea plays a critical role in our ecosystem. For millenniums, it has been home to countless animals and has been a steady source of sustenance. This vast body of water borders 22 countries and is home to an impressive diversity of wildlife.

Dolphins, whales, green turtles, and porpoises are only a few of the animals that thrive there. But are there sharks in the Mediterranean Sea?

Is the Mediterranean Sea Home to Sharks?

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Sharks are one of the most misunderstood species in the world. As apex predators, they have a vital role in the marine ecosystem. These animals are feared and are often perceived as bloodthirsty. The truth is most sharks are harmless. Rather than being savage predators, the species is more often hunted and killed by humans.

So, are there sharks in the Mediterranean Sea?

The Mediterranean Sea is one of the places where they can be found. So, yes, there are sharks in the Mediterranean Sea. To be exact, 47 shark species are swimming in its waters. Among these 47 kinds of sharks, there are 15 that swimmers need to be cautious of.

To put this figure in perspective, there are more than 500 shark species in all. But only 9% of them can be found in these waters. Why only 9%? Sharks like cold waters. Since the Mediterranean is warmer than other bodies of water, they’re rarely seen in the Mediterranean and if they are, they’re usually in the colder deeper parts of it.

18 Types of Sharks in the Mediterranean Sea

Here are 18 of the most fascinating shark species that reside in the Mediterranean.

#1. Great White Shark

White Shark

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Although the Mediterranean Sea isn’t their preferred body of water, the great white shark has been spotted in the area. Out of the 47 shark species, the great white shark is considered to be at the top of the food chain thanks to its intimidating body and aggressive nature.

In the Mediterranean, its only predators are pods of killer whales and orcas that occasionally visit the waters.

#2. Blue Shark

Blue Shark

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Blue sharks are common in the Mediterranean Sea and almost all bodies of water worldwide because these creatures are not fussy about where they eat or swim. They are one of the most adaptable species in the seas.

One thing that makes blue sharks stand out is they swim in schools according to gender.

#3. Small-Tooth Sand Tiger Shark

Tiger Shark

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These smaller sharks are known for their playful personalities and pose zero danger to humans. Many divers have frequent encounters with these creatures. Nonetheless, they must be approached carefully. Despite their friendlier natures, they’re skittish marine animals that are easily spooked.

#4. Catshark

Catshark

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Yes, catsharks exist. At first glance, you may doubt that they belong to the family of sharks because they’re relatively smaller and aren’t shaped like a traditional shark. Many describe them as adorable given that they’re only 3 feet long with a soft set of fins at the back, making them easy to mistake for a large fish.

#5. Sandbar Shark

Sandbar Shark

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An almost permanent resident of the Mediterranean Sea is the sandbar shark. As the name suggests, these sharks prefer to stay at the bottom of shallow waters next to the sand and mud. Also known as thickskin sharks, their numbers are alarmingly decreasing, making them endangered and protected species.

#6. Grey Nurse Shark

Grey Nurse Shark

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Looks can be deceiving. This scary-looking shark has a personality that is completely the opposite of what its colossal size and vicious teeth would have you believe. (They can grow up to 14 feet!) This nocturnal grey nurse shark is a slow mover and very docile. Well, as docile as sharks can get anyway.

But take heed — a bite from its serrated teeth can be fatal. While we’ve yet to hear of a human dying from its bite, the grey nurse shark can accidentally injure people or act defensively if they feel threatened.

#7. Blacktip Shark

Blacktip Shark

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It’s easy to mistake the blacktip shark for the more common spinner shark in this body of water. To differentiate them from the rest of the shark population in the Mediterranean Sea, look for the black tips in their bodies and fins.

Blacktip sharks are considered excellent hunters and are curious by nature, but they veer away from humans and are commonly seen lounging in shallow waters.

#8. Scalloped Hammerhead Shark

Hammerhead Shark

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You can definitely describe the scalloped hammerhead shark as completely unproportioned thanks to their scalloped-shaped heads, long bodies, and small mouths. To make it more challenging for this shark, the size of its mouth makes hunting and eating difficult, so they have learned not to prey on larger animals other than their favorite meal, the stingray.

#9. Longfin Mako Shark

Mako Shark

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One of the more aggressive sharks frequenting the Mediterranean Sea is the longfin mako shark, known for its longer fins and small head. This endangered shark boasts a high body temperature where their temperature is warmer than the water they’re swimming in. These sharks are intimidating hunters but they have little speed when swimming.

#10. Tiger Shark

Tiger Shark

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A permanent resident of the Mediterranean Sea, tiger sharks are the second threat to humans when it comes to shark bites. But the fact remains that humans are the bigger threat.
Tiger sharks are known to eat anything and everything that comes their way. They don’t have a particular preference so it’s best to avoid them.

#11. Gulper Shark

Gulper Shark

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Gulper sharks are a smaller species that are easy to identify because of their bright and sinister green eyes. These sharks love swimming in the deeper waters. Despite being at least 720 feet deep, their numbers continue to dwindle due to commercial fishing.

Gulper sharks love to eat large fish and squids.

#12. Basking Shark

Basking Shark

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At 40 feet long, the basking shark is a giant of the Mediterranean Sea. Despite its imposing size, it is one of the calmest and even funnier sharks in the water. The basking shark has an established reputation for swimming around with its mouth wide open. This behavior allows the shark to capture zooplankton, its primary meal. This enormous shark can impressively filter up to 2,000 liters of water per hour.

#13. Bluntnose Sixgill Shark

Sixgill Shark

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Most sharks have five gills on their side. So, what sets the bluntnose sixgill shark apart is its six gills, thus the name. These sharks have been swimming in the world’s waters for at least 200 million years which explains why their physical appearance resembles prehistoric sharks.

They love the dark and deep parts of the ocean. In the Mediterranean, you can often see them in the shallow areas hunting for food, but only at night.

#14. Spinner Shark

Spinner Shark

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Spinner sharks live almost everywhere so long as there is considerable water. These sharks can quickly adapt to any environment. With their hunting skills, they can survive anywhere.

Spinner sharks got their name from swimming rapidly through a large school of fish, jumping out of the water, then spinning several times before diving back in.

#15. Dusky Shark

Dusky Shark

 

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Thanks to low reproduction and overfishing, dusky sharks are starting to dwindle in number. These frequent swimmers of the Mediterranean Sea love its coastal and warm waters. Some may be more familiar with the dusky shark’s other name, black whalers.

These sharks are migratory species that move from one body of water to another in search of new hunting areas.

#16. Thresher Shark

Thresher Shark

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Another resident of the Mediterranean Sea is the thresher shark. You can easily identify it from all the other sharks because of the unique way it hunts. Thresher sharks take full advantage of their massive caudal fin to hit the surface of the sea. When the fish gather, they instantly slam their fin into them, killing or stunning the unsuspecting animals. Apart from this peculiar behavior, thresher sharks are harmless and shy.

#17. Velvet Belly Shark

Belly Shark

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The velvet belly shark is smaller and shorter at 45 centimeters or less. This shark got its name from its black underbelly which is in stark contrast to its brown body. The velvet belly lantern shark is an example of a bioluminescent species.

To protect these endangered species, there is a ban in the Mediterranean Sea that restricts bottom trawling to a depth of 1,000 meters.

#18. Spiny Dogfish Shark

Dogfish Shark

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If there’s a catshark, then there’s a dogfish to match — the spiny dogfish shark. Unlike your furry four-legged pet, this shark is deadly because the spines in each of its dorsal fins contain a mild venom that is released when they pierce the flesh of their attackers.

Thankfully, the spiny dogfish is a plentiful species and harmless to humans.

A Few Parting Words

Are there sharks in the Mediterranean Sea? Absolutely. Forty-seven species in fact. From the 40-foot-long basking shark to the 45-centimeter velvet belly shark and everything in between, the species are majestic, exotic, and awe-inspiring but they’re best admired from a healthy and respectful distance.

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