Sharks in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is home to 60 shark species, including the great white, the whale shark, and the tiger shark. Despite this, human-shark interactions rarely turn sour, and the Sri Lankan government protects several sharks.

List of the Different Types of Sharks in Sri Lanka

Species Maximum Size Aggressiveness
Arabian Smooth-hound 4.9-4.92 feet Not aggressive
Big Eye Thresher Shark 11-16 feet Not aggressive
Bigeye Sand Tiger Shark 11-12 feet Not aggressive (show aggression only if provoked)
Bignose Shark 8.5-9.5 feet Highly aggressive (but not dangerous since they are less encountered)
Blackspot Shark 3-3.1 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 Six-gill Shark 15-20 feet Moderately aggressive (rarely targets humans, reports of just one provoked attack)
Bramble Shark 9.2-10 feet Not aggressive
Bristly Catshark 0.65-0.85 feet Not aggressive
Broadfin shark 5.7-5.74 feet Not aggressive
Broadnose Sevengill Shark 3.5-7.5 feet Not aggressive (unless caught)
Common Thresher Shark 12-18 feet Not aggressive
Coral Catshark 2-2.3 feet Not aggressive
Crocodile Shark 2.5-4 feet Not aggressive
Dwarf False Catshark 2-2.1 feet Not aggressive
Graceful Shark 5.5-5.6 feet Not aggressive (potentially dangerous)
Great Hammerhead Shark 15-20 feet Highly aggressive
Great White Shark 11-16 feet Highly aggressive
Grey Bamboo Shark 2.3-2.5 feet Not aggressive
Grey Reef Shark 4-5 feet Highly aggressive
Grey Sharpnose Shark 2.3-2.9 feet Not aggressive
Gulper Shark 2.5-3 feet Not aggressive
Hardnose Shark 3.5-3.6 feet Not aggressive
Hooktooth Shark 2.2-3.3 feet Not aggressive
Kitefin Shark 3-5 feet Not aggressive
Leafscale Gulper Shark 5-5.2 feet Not aggressive
Lemon Shark 9-10 feet Not aggressive
Longfin Mako Shark 12-14 feet Highly aggressive
Megamouth Shark 13-18 feet Not aggressive
Milk Shark 3.6-3.7 feet Not aggressive
Oceanic Whitetip Shark 5-8 feet Highly aggressive
Ornate Dogfish 0.98-1 feet Not aggressive
Pelagic Thresher Shark 13-18 feet Not aggressive
Pigeye Shark 6.2-8.2 feet Not aggressive (but potentially dangerous)
Pondicherry Shark 3-3.3 feet Not aggressive
Prickly Shark 13-14 feet Not aggressive
Pygmy Ribbontail Catshark 0.78-0.8 feet Not aggressive
Roughskin Dogfish 3.9-4 feet Not aggressive
Sandbar Shark 5.5-8.5 feet Not aggressive
Sand Tiger Shark 7-10 feet Not aggressive (due to their small mouths)
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark 9-12 feet Moderately aggressive
Shortfin Mako Shark 6.5-9.5 feet Highly aggressive
Sicklefin Lemon Shark 10-12 feet Moderately aggressive
Sicklefin Weasel Shark 3.5-3.6 feet Not aggressive
Silky Shark 7-10 feet Highly aggressive
Silvertip Shark 6.6-9.8 feet Moderately aggressive
Slender Bamboo Shark 2.1-2.2 feet Not aggressive
Sliteye Shark 2-2.3 feet Not aggressive
Smalltooth Sand Tiger Shark 12-14 feet Not aggressive
Smooth Hammerhead Shark 8-12 feet Not aggressive (but are potentially dangerous)
Snaggletooth Shark 7.8-7.9 feet Not aggressive
Spadenose Shark 2-2.4 feet Not aggressive
Spinner Shark 7 -8 feet Not aggressive
Spot-tail Shark 5-5.3 feet Not aggressive
Starry Smooth-hound 4-4.7 feet Not aggressive
Tawny Nurse Shark 9.6-10 feet Not aggressive
Tiger Shark 10-14 feet Highly aggressive
Whale Shark 18-32 feet Not aggressive
White Spotted Bamboo Shark 2-3 feet Not aggressive
Whitecheek Shark 3.2-3.3 feet Not aggressive
Whitetip Reef Shark 3-5.5 feet Moderately aggressive (only when provoked)
Winghead Shark 6-6.2 feet Not aggressive
Zebra Shark 8.2-11 feet Not aggressive

FAQs

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Shark attacks in Sri Lanka are sporadic (the last recorded instance was in 1970), and most tend to be non-fatal.

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Yes, great whites swim regularly in Sri Lankan waters. However, they generally do not go near beaches.

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Yes, on Pigeon Island, you can go snorkeling with blacktip reef sharks, and on the West Coast, you can interact with whale sharks.

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