How to Identify Sharks Species

During your diving in the ocean, have you ever told your family and friends that you had spotted a shark, then later found out that it was just another marine animal and not a shark? Well, it happens to us all, and in the excitement, we often fail to recognize a shark. Having said that, if you go into the water, it is of utmost importance that you are able to identify a shark.

The sharks do not necessarily seek out humans, but they do pose a threat. If you cannot classify whether it is a shark or not, you are putting yourself at greater risk.

Oceans around the world inhabit sharks, and they have been living there for a long time, even longer than trees and dinosaurs. Over 500 species, sharks are important for the healthy oceans as they keep the population in balance and as well as maintain the food web.

With that said, seeing sharks is always a pleasurable experience, and it is even more satisfying watching sharks jumping out of the water. Not to be surprised, sharks play a pivotal role in boosting eco-tourism. Shark diving, tours, and all recreational water sports become truly adventurous and mesmerizing, all thanks to the sharks.

But the problem remains, how to identify sharks? What if one crosses by, but you miss a sight thinking of it as some other animal?

Not anymore, since this blog will let you know the important points that will help you identify sharks even from a distance. So do read it out if you don’t want to miss the next chance to see and capture the moment.

Sharks identification

As an initial thought, we all considered sharks to be giant-sized toothed animals, but in reality, you will find sharks of varying sizes, colors, and shapes, because there are over 500 species of sharks found in the world.

With that, the features and characteristics vary from species to species, however, there are certain elements that are the same for all sharks. We are going to determine that and will also see some of the well-known shark species distinguishing features so that you can easily identify them.

Sharks physical appearance

Sharks have been here for ages, and they will be here for many years to come, but when it comes to physical appearance, it is believed that sharks haven’t changed much. The physical characteristics alone will help a lot in shark identification. 

There are no bones in a shark, so their skeletons are cartilage and connective tissues. They have a muscular, irregular, inverted tail, pointed fins, and a snout.

The teeth are not directly attached to the jaw but are embedded in the gums and are replaced from time to time.

Dietary habits determine tooth shape: sharks that eat mollusks and crustaceans have dense, flat teeth that are used for crushing, while sharks that eat fish have needle-like teeth for better gripping. Why not find what is included in the shark’s diet. Sharks that prey on large mammals have stronger teeth with an upper tooth with a serrated edge that can cut through larger prey and pointed lower teeth for grasping.

Shark fins are another physical aspect that helps you differentiate between the creatures. The five different types include the pectoral fins, pelvic fins, dorsal fins, anal fins, and caudal fins (tail). While most sharks have eight in total, some may have six or seven. The primary function of the fins is to propel the shark through water by providing drive, firmness, steering, and propulsion. Do read about how sharks swim, and you will know the functions in detail.

Identification of some well-known sharks

Knowing about the physical appearance, in general, would have given you an idea of sharks’ body parts and what they will look like. But as said earlier, significant differences can be seen with different species types. So, let’s explore the common shark species and how you can identify them easily.

The great white shark

It is said to be the largest shark species, approximately 20 feet in length. The size itself is enough to give you an idea; however, the conical snout and triangular dorsal fin will further allow you to recognize the great white.

Moreover, an unexpected color change on the flanks makes them easy to recognize. Their tops are dark grayish-black, while their undersides are very pale and almost white.

Tiger shark identification

Reaching a length of about 15 to 18 feet, tiger sharks are recognized easily with their low interdorsal ridge, rounded snout, and serrated teeth. Moreover, tiger sharks are said to have spiracles that allow them to stop at a particular position for a period of time. Moreover, the body of a tiger shark is striped with dark lines, which resemble stripes on a tiger, but these fade as the shark grows older.

Bull shark identification

The distinguishing characteristic of a bull shark includes the difference in the size of dorsal fins. Reaching an approximate size of 10 feet, bull sharks are aggressive in nature and are involved in a number of attacks on humans. Furthermore, the bull shark lacks an interdorsal ridge, but it has a shorter snout and smaller eyes.


A shark is one of the many marvels of the marine world, and to your surprise, they have many distinct features which allow you to easily identify them even from a distance. Sharks play a pivotal role in maintaining healthy blue oceans as well as enhancing eco-tourism, but what if you aren’t able to recognize a shark even if it’s in front of you? Well, that would be awful. But, this article has provided you with enough info to easily identify sharks.

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