Is Flathead Shark Dangerous? See More About Its Features

The Flathead Shark is considered the most dangerous species of tropical shark in the world. In addition to being able to cover great distances.

Is Flathead Shark Dangerous? See More About Its Features
Is Flathead Shark Dangerous? See More About Its Features

Generally speaking, the fish swims 180 kg in 24 hours and can move in both salt water and fresh water.

And despite not being a very important species in commerce, the animal would be good for food.

So, follow us and understand more features about Flathead Shark.


  • Scientific name – Carcharhinus leucas;
  • Family – Carcharhinidae.

Features of the Flathead Shark

The Flathead Shark also goes by the name Zambezi Shark and among its main characteristics, we should mention the following:

The first dorsal fin starts behind the pectoral insertion, as well as the snout would be more rounded and shorter.

The mouth is wide and the eyes are small. Regarding color, the back of the animal is brown or dark gray and the belly would be white.

Individuals are 2.1 to 3.5 m in total length and life expectancy is 14 years of age.

Incidentally, we should mention that although it is not fundamental in the trade, fish meat is sold fresh, frozen or smoked.

And in some countries in Asia, the fins are used to make soup.

The skin is used to make leather, the animal’s liver comes out of oil and from the carcass, people produce flour for other fish.

As a final characteristic, know that the Flathead has the ability to develop in captivity, as it is very resistant.

In this way, the main specimens are displayed in public aquariums or are kept in tanks, where they live for about 15 years.

As a result, demand for this species in the aquarium industry has grown over the past 20 years, but the importance in trade has not affected the wild population.

Reproduction of the Flat Head Shark

A very interesting curiosity about the Flat-Headed Shark is that it represents the living being with the highest testosterone index.

Thus, even females have an elevated testosterone level.

Regarding reproduction, it is worth mentioning that females generate 13 offspring and gestation lasts 12 months.

The young are born with a total length of 70 cm and live in mangroves, river mouths and bays.

As a result, the small fish are born in late spring and early summer, when we consider the western North Atlantic, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.

In the regions of South Africa, birth also occurs in this period.

On the other hand, off Nicaragua, females have young throughout the year and gestation can last 10 months.

The Flathead Shark reaches sexual maturity between 10 and 15 years. When it is between 160 and 200 cm in total length.

One feature that differentiates males from females is that they have cut scars, while they do not have fight scars.


The Flathead Shark’s diet may have other fish, including sharks of other species and stingrays.

It can also eat conspecifics, birds, mantis shrimp, crabs, squid, sea turtles, sea urchins, sea snails, mammal carrion and garbage.

Therefore, fish have a territorial behavior and attack various animals, no matter how big they are.


This species has teeth in the lower jaw that look like nails and are triangular in shape.

This allows the shark to hold the prey while the upper teeth tear it apart.

In fact, the animal has poor eyesight, which makes it rely on other senses to attack victims.

For this reason, the species would be dangerous in low-visibility waters.

The shark can do great damage because it shakes its head, increasing the victim’s wound.

According to information released by the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), the Flathead Shark is responsible for at least 100 attacks on humans worldwide.

Among these attacks, 27 were fatal and it is believed that the species may have attacked even more people.

Fish are greatly feared, as is the great white shark.

For example, we can mention a series of attacks that took place in New Jersey in the year 1916.

Four of the people died within a period of 12 days and suspicions indicate that this species is responsible.

Thus, the Flathead is very dangerous to humans, but attacks in fresh water are rare.

Where to find the Flathead Shark

The Flathead Shark is present in subtropical and tropical waters of oceans, rivers and lakes with high temperature.

The species has the ability to live in fresh or salt water and inhabits the coasts of beaches.

The distribution covers the Mississippi River regions in the United States. Found in Brazil as well, mainly in Recife.

It also inhabits river waters, where it manages to live in low salinity and has the habit of attacking people, being known as the “zambezi shark”.

This common name comes from the Zambezi River in Africa.

In addition, we must say that although it has a bad reputation, in some regions the fish are calmer.

Among these regions, it is worth mentioning Saint Lucia, in Cuba, where divers can swim alongside the shark, but care is necessary.

Finally, individuals prefer regions with a depth of 30 m.

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