Sharks in Alaska

Alaska isn’t a favorable place for sharks to live, as its chilling waters make it difficult for most fish to survive. Of the three shark species found here, the salmon shark inhabiting the Prince William Sound off the Gulf of Alaska is the most familiar. Alaska’s salmon fisheries commonly catch them. They resemble the great white shark – a miniature version of the mighty great white. The Pacific sleeper shark, the biggest of the three, is sluggish and rarely seen since it is difficult to catch. The 3-feet long spiny dogfish, the smallest, is common around the Yakutat area.

Dr. Ken Goldman of the Alaskan Department of Fish and Game has had expertise in researching shark species in Alaska for several decades. He mentions that sharks have called Alaskan waters their home for over 10 million years. Yet, little is known about them due to the lack of a proper population estimate.

Sharks in Alaska

List of the Different Types of Sharks in Alaska

Common Sharks

Pacific Sleeper Shark 12-15 feet Not aggressive
Spiny Dogfish 2.5-3.5 feet Not aggressive (due to their small size)
Salmon Shark 8-10 feet Not aggressive

Rare Sharks

Bluntnose Sixgill Shark 15-20 feet Moderately aggressive (rarely target humans, reports of just one provoked attack)
Great White Shark 11-16 feet Highly aggressive
Blue Shark 6-11 feet Not aggressive
Basking Shark 23-30 feet Not aggressive
Thresher Shark 10-18 feet Not aggressive



Great white sharks are rare in Alaskan waters. There is just one record of this species caught in the Bering Sea in August 1979, around 12 feet long. However, scientists believe that more great white sharks can be seen in the future.


There have not been many records of shark attacks in Alaska. Data from 10 years show 0 unprovoked and 0 fatal attacks. The only mishap resulted from a sea disaster where the victim, a crewman, was assumed to have drowned first and then consumed by sharks. 

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