Sharks in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is home to about 40 species of sharks. This information is not surprising, considering the water surrounding the tropical paradise remains warm year-round, which is ideal for most shark species.

Sharks tend to hang out close to beaches with shallow water and reefs that have a decent supply of food. However, they do not feed on humans and tend to avoid us altogether most times.

List of the Different Types of Sharks in Puerto Rico

Species Maximum

Size

Aggressiveness
Antilles Catshark 1.1-1.5 feet Not aggressive
Basking Shark 23-30 feet Not aggressive
Bigeye Thresher Shark 11-16 feet Not aggressive
Blacknose Shark 3-5 feet Not aggressive
Blacktip Reef Shark 3-4 feet Moderately aggressive (if provoked)
Blacktip Shark 5-8 feet Moderately aggressive
Blue Shark 6-11 feet Not aggressive
Bluntnose Sixgill Shark 15-20 feet Moderately aggressive (rarely targets humans, reports of just one provoked attack)
Broadnose Sevengill Shark 3.5-7.5 feet Not aggressive (unless caught)
Bull Shark 7-12 feet Highly aggressive
Caribbean Lanternshark 1.6-1.7 feet Not aggressive
Caribbean Reef Shark 8-9 feet Not aggressive
Caribbean Sharpnose Shark 3-4 feet Highly aggressive
Cookiecutter Shark 1.5-3.5 feet Not aggressive
Cuban Dogfish 2.5-3.6 feet Not aggressive
Dusky Shark 9 -12 feet Not aggressive (until provoked)
Finetooth Shark 5-6 feet Not aggressive
Galapagos Shark 9.8-12 ft Highly aggressive
Great Hammerhead Shark 15-20 feet Highly aggressive
Great White Shark 11-16 feet Highly aggressive
Gulper Shark 2.5-3 feet Not aggressive
Kitefin Shark 3-5 feet Not aggressive
Lemon Shark 9-10 feet Not aggressive
Megamouth Shark 13-18 feet Not aggressive
Narrowfin Smoothhound 1.6-3.3 feet Not aggressive
Nurse Shark 7-8 feet Not aggressive
Oceanic Whitetip Shark 10-13 feet Highly aggressive
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark 9-12 feet Moderately aggressive
Shortfin Mako Shark 6.5-9.5 feet Highly aggressive
Silky Shark 7-10 feet Highly aggressive
Smalltail Shark 3.5-4.5 feet Not aggressive
Smooth Dogfish 4-5 feet Not aggressive (due to their blunt teeth)
Smooth Hammerhead Shark 8-12 feet Not aggressive (but are potentially dangerous)
Spinner Shark 7 -8 feet Not aggressive
Thresher Shark 10-18 feet Not aggressive
Tiger Shark 10-14 feet Highly aggressive
Whale Shark 18-32 feet Not aggressive

FAQs

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Shark attacks in Puerto Rico are pretty rare. Most occur when the shark mistakes a human on a surfboard for a seal and bites them under this misconception. Other times, they are attracted by the fish captured by anglers and go into a frenzy. In 2021, two surfers were attacked by an unknown shark – possibly a species of hammerhead. This was the first such attack in a decade, the last in 2011. However, it is believed that the shark was aggressively pursuing a stingray and most likely had no intention of attacking the duo.

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Several species of sharks are endangered or facing extinction due to loss of habitat and getting caught as bycatch.

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Yes, there are places like Cayo Lobito and Mona Island, where nurse sharks live, the coral reefs of Vieques home to tiger and Caribbean reef sharks, and the famous Black Wall dive, inhabited by several species of hammerhead.

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Though increasingly rare, great white sharks can be seen in Puerto Rico.

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