Sharks in California

California has over 30 shark species, mostly found along the coastline. While the cat and pygmy sharks barely grow to 2 feet in height, the bigger ones, like the thresher and great white, are enormous, measuring as much as 15 feet.

Of all the species, the great white shark is abundant here and concentrated in great numbers along regions like Tomales Point, Ano Nuevo Island, and Bird Rock. Since 1950 California has witnessed around 209 shark attacks, of which 185 came from the great whites. These sharks were even responsible for the 15 deaths that resulted from the injuries.

List of Sharks in California

Species Maximum Size Aggressiveness
Great White Shark 11-16 feet Highly aggressive
Blue Shark 6-11 feet Not aggressive
Shortfin Mako Shark 6.5-9.5 feet Highly aggressive
Common Thresher Shark 12-18 feet Not aggressive
Broadnose Sevengill Shark 3.5-7.5 feet Not aggressive (unless caught)
Smooth Hammerhead Shark 8-12 feet Not aggressive (but are potentially dangerous)
Leopard Shark 6-7 feet Not aggressive
Angel Shark 4-7 feet Moderately aggressive
Horn Shark 3-4 feet Moderately aggressive
Swell Shark 2.5 – 4.5 feet Not aggressive
Common Smooth-hound Shark 3-4 feet Not aggressive
School Shark 6-7 feet Not aggressive
Pacific Angel Shark 4-5 feet Not aggressive
Gray Smooth-hound Shark 4-6 feet Not aggressive
Frilled Shark 4-5 feet Not aggressive
Bluntnose Sixgill Shark 15-18 feet Not aggressive (unless provoked)
Prickly Shark 13-15 feet Not aggressive
Brown Catshark 1-2 feet Not aggressive
Combtooth Dogfish 1.5-2.5 feet Not aggressive
Pacific Sleeper Shark 12-15 feet Not aggressive
Pygmy Shark 1-2 feet Not aggressive
Cookiecutter Shark 1.5-3.5 feet Not aggressive
Mexican Horn Shark 3-5 feet Not aggressive (unless provoked)
Whale Shark 18-32 feet Not aggressive
Nurse Shark 18-32 feet Not aggressive
Goblin Shark 7-8 feet Not aggressive
Ragged-tooth Shark 8-10 feet Not aggressive (unless provoked)
Megamouth Shark 13-18 feet Not aggressive
Pelagic Thresher 13-18 feet Not aggressive
Bigeye Thresher Shark 11-16 feet Not aggressive
Common Thresher Shark 11-16 feet Not aggressive
Crocodile Shark 2.5-4 feet Not aggressive
Basking Shark 23-30 feet Not aggressive
Filetail Catshark 3-5 feet Not aggressive
Oceanic Whitetip Shark 5-8 feet Highly aggressive
Brown Smooth-hound 1.5-2.5 feet Not aggressive

FAQs

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The common shark species found in southern California include the school shark, broadnose sevengill shark, horn shark, and Pacific angel shark.

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California is one of the famous shark diving destinations where one could have a gala time swimming with the sharks all year round. The experienced divers could go cage diving and have a more direct interaction with the sharks. In contrast, those seeking a little less adventure but a perfect experience could prefer watching the different species from their boat.

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Shark fishing is allowed throughout the year in California, except for the great white shark. Infact, catching a great white shark is illegal here as they have been protected since 1st January 1994.

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Bull sharks can be rarely found in southern California.

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