How Fast is a Bull Shark?

how fast is a bull shark

Sharks are the most fascinating and longest-living creatures in the oceans. They are born to swim at high speed to catch their prey. The average speed of sharks is 1.5 kph. However, some sharks are capable of swimming at high speed. Some sharks are naturally built for high speed while others are quick despite their appearance. The speed of sharks depends on the size of the shark and the environment; the smaller sharks can swim faster as compared to the bulkier sharks. 

Only a few shark species are capable of living and breeding in freshwater. One such species is the Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas) which is one of the most aggressive shark species living in oceans worldwide. They are the only shark species that have the ability to live in the freshwaters of Lake Nicaragua as their bodies contain less salt. They hunt along the tropical shorelines where people often swim. They are the largest shark species known to attack humans. The speed of these sharks plays an important role while attacking their prey. Do you have any idea how speedy Bull Sharks are in the oceans? No!, you will be amazed to learn the facts about the speed of the Bull Shark in the below section of this guide.

Quick Facts About Bull Sharks

  • Bull Sharks are the world’s most dangerous shark species.
  • You can distinguish them from the other sharks because of the length and width ratio of their bodies. They have wider bodies compared to their length. 
  • Bull Sharks can thrive in freshwater as well as saltwater. They live in shallow and warm water throughout the world.
  • Bull Sharks have kidneys and special organs near the tails that help them retain salt in their bodies and make them adaptable to fresh water.
  • The average measured size of the Bull Shark is 7 feet with a weight of 200 and 300 pounds. The female Bull Sharks have double weight (400 to 500 pounds) compared to the male Bull Sharks.
  • They have more rows of teeth than the average shark species. The average shark species have 5 to 15 rows of teeth while the Bull Sharks have 50 rows of teeth.
  • They are opportunistic feeders and primarily feed on small fish, dolphins, and sea turtles.

How Fast is a Bull Shark?

The Bull Sharks are agile swimmers and are ranked in the top 10 shark species with impressive speeds. They swim in water with an average speed of 2mph or 3 kph. While attacking their prey, they are capable of swimming at a high speed of 25mph or 40 kph. With this speed, they can travel a long distance farther up the Amazon River nearly 2200 miles from the ocean. They are incredibly strong swimmers and have been found a thousand miles up from the Mississippi River.

What Makes Bull Sharks Swim So Fast?

The structure of the bodies of sharks makes them swim faster in the oceans compared to the other fish species. The features listed below make the Bull Sharks extremely fast swimmers and agile predators:

  • The bodies of sharks consist of the soft cartilage rather than the heavy bones.
  • Their bodies are capable of conserving metabolic heat. So, their warm blood makes them swim faster compared to other species. 
  • The loose skin, flexible bodies, and potent tails help the sharks to achieve this speed.
  • The environment also affects the speed of sharks as the sharks living in icy water move slowly compared to the sharks living in warmer or temperate waters. Bull sharks are not warm-blooded, but their preference for warmer water helps them swim faster. 

How Fast Bull Sharks Swim While Chasing a Prey?

The Bull Sharks are agile water swimmers and they chase their prey until they are defeated. These large requiem sharks can grow up to 11 feet. They are opportunistic feeders and hunt their prey using the method of Bump and Bite; first, they bump something with their nose to see it, then they bite the prey to check if it is edible.

The Bull Sharks usually appear sluggish and cruise along the bottom of the water slowly. However, they can swim faster in short bursts when attacking the prey. They have been recorded to move at a speed of 11 mph over short distances while catching the smaller prey. They swim in the shallow waters using their pectoral fins. In comparison, humans can swim at an average of 2 mph. Michael Phelps, the Olympic champion, has a top speed of 6 mph.

Is the Bull Shark the Fastest Swimming Shark?

No, the Shortfin Mako is the fastest-moving shark species with an average swimming speed of 46 mph. The Bull Sharks are not the fastest species, still, they are present in the top 10 fastest swimming shark species with a maximum speed of 25 mph. We have mentioned the list of the fastest sharks with their speed in the below table:

Shark SpeciesSpeed
Shortfin Mako46 mph
Salmon Shark45 mph
Blue Shark43 mph
Great White Shark34 mph
Gray Reef Shark31 mph
Thresher Shark30 mph
Nurse Shark25 mph
Bull Shark25 mph
Hammerhead Shark20 mph
Tiger Shark20 mph

Final Thoughts

The Bull Sharks are the largest predatory sharks that are capable of living in salt waters as well as fresh water. These species appear sluggish as normally they move slowly in water. However, they can reach a speed of 25 mph or 40 kph. Their flexible bodies and powerful tails help them achieve this speed. The speed of sharks automatically increases when pursuing their prey. These agile swimmers are capable of short bursts with a speed of 11 mph at short distances to capture their smaller prey. Bull Sharks have exceptional control over the position and movement of their bodies which allows them to attack their prey with speed and efficiency.

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