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Types of Sharks in the Mediterranean Sea

Updated on June 24, 2015

Yes, there are sharks in the Mediterranean Sea: seldom seen, and even more seldom coming anywhere close to people. They are there, but in ever-decreasing numbers as they are being fished to extinction.

The Mediterranean Sea is an inland sea spanning three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe.

It covers a massive 965,000 square miles, and its warm waters are home to at least 47 different species of shark, at least 15 of which could be dangerous to humans.

Yet despite the millions of people using its 28,600 miles of coastline every year, there have been very few reported Mediterranean shark attacks, and fewer deaths.

With very saline, warm waters and little tidal movement, the Mediterranean Sea is home to an abundance of sea creatures, gving the sharks plenty of food to live off.

Some of the waters in the Mediterranean reach a depth of over 15,000 feet although the average depths is just 4,000 feet. At the Straits of Gibraltar, a nine-mile gap between Spain and Africa, the Mediterranean Sea opens into the vast Atlantic Ocean, and offers a migratory path for many pelagic (open sea) sharks to traverse the ocean to the USA, which some species of sharks do unfailingly every year, returning to the deep waters of the Mediterranean to hatch their young.

The Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea | Source

Dangerous Sharks of the Mediterranean Sea

The three most dangerous sharks on the planet are believed to be present in the Mediterranean.

  • Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias)
  • Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier), though its presence has not been confirmed.
  • Bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas); again its presence is suspected but not confirmed.

There are many other dangerous sharks in the Mediterranean, including:

  • Blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus)
  • Smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena)
  • Scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini)
  • Great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran)
  • Shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus)
  • Grey nurse or sandtiger shark (Carcharias taurus)
  • Sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus)
  • Spinner shark (Carcharhinus brevipinna)
  • Copper shark (Carcharhinus brachyurus)
  • Blue shark ( Prionace glauca )
  • Sharp-nose sevengill shark (Heptranchias perlo)
  • Oceanic whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus)

The "Requiem Sharks" of the family Carcharhinidae are present in quite large numbers in the Mediterranean.

a possible sighting of a tiger shark in the Med?
a possible sighting of a tiger shark in the Med? | Source

Other Sharks in the Mediterranean

Common Name
Scientific Name
Smalleye hammerhead
Sphyrna tudes
Whitefin hammerhead
Sphyrna couardi
Milk shark
Rhizoprionodon acutus
Silky shark
Carcharhinus falciformis
Bignose shark
Carcharhinus altimus
Mustelus mustelus
Schoolshark or tope
Galeorhinus galeus
Blackmouth catshark
Galeus melastomus
Scyliorhinus stellaris
Lamna nasus
Longfin Mako
Isurus paucus
Smalltooth sandtiger
Odontaspis ferox
Smoothback angelshark
Squatina oculata
Sawback angelshark
Squatina aculeata
Squatina squatina
no, but can be aggressive if disturbed
Angular Roughshark
Oxynotus centrina
Cookiecutter shark
Isistius brasiliensis
can be
Longnose spurdog
Squalus blainvillei
Piked dogfish
Squalus acanthias
Little sleeper shark
Somniosus rostratus
Velvet Belly shark
Etmopterus spinax
Kitefin shark
Dalatias licha
Portuguese Dogfish
Centroscymnus coelopis
Little Gulper shark
Centrophorus uyato
Gulper shark
Centrophorus granulosus
Sharpnose Sixgill shark
Hexanchus nakamurai
Bluntnose Sixgill shark
Hexanchus griseus
Thresher shark
Alopias vulpinus
tail-whip potentially dangerous
Bigeye Thresher shark
Alopias superciliosus
Dusky shark
Carcharhinus obscurus

Many sharks in the Mediterranean Sea are virtually never seen and so pose no danger to water users. Still, their presence means that bathers and others doing watersports should always be on the lookout for sharks.

Only the big three mentioned above—the white, bull and tiger sharkhave teeth designed for tearing. Other sharks' teeth are designed for gripping, and so are less likely to cause fatal wounds.

Most sharks, even the great white shark, only bite humans to check out what they are. But because of the size of the great white, even an exploratory bite by this shark can be fatal or cause serious injury.

Many smaller sharks will bite only when caught in fishermen's nets or on lines. Because even little sharks have powerful teeth, all sharks should be treated with the utmost caution at all times.

Sharks in the Mediterranean Sea


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    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 4 years ago from Neverland

      Wow, this is QUITE an impressive Hub for a beginner. You obviously really know what you are doing! The information is in-depth, the layout is amazing and the videos are fun :) Welcome to HubPages, you'll love writing here and I can't wait to see what else you offer.

    • sharkfacts profile image

      sharkfacts 4 years ago from UK

      Thank you Ardie :) I only write about sharks which are my passion, so I hope you enjoy reading about them.

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 4 years ago from Neverland

      Finding a niche and sticking to it is a smart idea :) plus who doesn't love sharks?! My three kids will love this information too. Its great for school reports.

    • sharkfacts profile image

      sharkfacts 4 years ago from UK

      Glad to help :)

    • Bri 4 years ago

      Hi there

      Why is it sharks in the med are rarley seen, i live in Cyprus and have a bad phobia about sharks. i want to take my Daughter snorkeling but will we be safe.

    • sharkfacts profile image

      sharkfacts 4 years ago from UK

      There are very few of them left, compared to what there was even 50 years ago. The fishermen have finned a huge number of them, and the rest lost through being accidental by-catch.

      I would take your daughter snorkeling. There are very, very few shark attacks in the Med - 36 in the last 150 years.

    • Bri 4 years ago

      Thanks for the quick reply, looks like we will be snorkeling this weekend

    • sharkfacts profile image

      sharkfacts 4 years ago from UK

      Have a great time, and a read of this hub too, just in case ;) -

    • ABC 4 years ago

      its all waste

    • Molly 4 years ago

      My dads taking me to coral bay snorkeling and I hate sharks,I'm scared to death of sharks should I be worried about getting bitten

    • sharkfacts profile image

      sharkfacts 4 years ago from UK

      I'm not sure where Coral Bay is? That said, even if it is in area where there are dangerous sharks, the chances of being bitten are very low, so don't worry. You are statistically more likely to get struck by lightning! I'm sure your Dad would not take you anywhere that is dangerous, so relax and have a great time :)

    • CJWood71 profile image

      Christopher J Wood 4 years ago from Florida, USA

      Very interesting and well written hub. I have always enjoyed learning about sharks, Shark Week was created for people like me who are always wanting to know more about them. Voted Up and Interesting!

    • sharkfacts profile image

      sharkfacts 4 years ago from UK

      It is quite surprising how little we actually do know about sharks, but thanks to shark tagging programs, we are learning more all the time. Thanks for stopping by and commenting :)

    • CyprusDude 4 years ago

      I absouloutley love snorkeling at coral bay and ive seen a octopus there once.....

      (coral bay is a few miles away from tomb of the kings road)

      but ive been watching shark week programs and have really been putten of going in the sea......

      i usualy go quite far out to sea accidentally and i get really panicky when my dad goes further out and further....

      has there been any shark attacks on coral bay or pisouri bay

    • sharkfacts profile image

      sharkfacts 4 years ago from UK

      Check it out here, this a complete listing of all reported shark attacks in the Mediterranean Sea, but it doesn't name the beaches, just the areas -

    • idigwebsites profile image

      idigwebsites 4 years ago from United States

      I'm always fascinated in everything about the sea... Thanks for posting this great hub! :)

    • sharkfacts profile image

      sharkfacts 4 years ago from UK

      Thanks for taking the time to comment :)

    • Interested 4 years ago

      I would like to know if rivers in Europe are safe of sharks or not.

    • em8621 4 years ago

      I have only signed up to hubpages after stumbling across your hub on google. I have always been terrified of sharks, so much so I won't even go in the sea around the UK, yet I find them fascinating to research. My dad is a diving instructor and has swum with them many times so it's strange i'm so scared. Thank you for providing such a fascinating and insightful hub :)

    • sharkfacts profile image

      sharkfacts 4 years ago from UK

      Hey you are welcome! Look forward to reading your articles (hubs) when you get them written. You didn't have to join just to comment, but this is a great community and a super platform to write on.

    • sharkfacts profile image

      sharkfacts 4 years ago from UK

      @Interested, I have not heard of any bull sharks in any rivers in Europe (being sharks that can live in fresh water). There may well be smaller and less dangerous types but have not heard of any. Sorry about the late reply - only just saw your comment.

    • nuffsaidstan profile image

      nuffsaidstan 4 years ago

      That's the last time i'm swimming in the Med!, my father in law used to live in Menorca one of his friends accidentally swam into a shoal of jellyfish, his scars were amazing.

    • sharkfacts profile image

      sharkfacts 4 years ago from UK

      The rise in jellyfish numbers directly correspond to the decline in shark numbers. This is a growing problem along the Med's coastline, and jellyfish stings can ruin a holiday just as much as a small shark bite. The ecological balance of the Med is being upset by the lack of the top predators - sharks. There could be worse to come - jellyfish is just the start of it.

    • gosupress profile image

      Bram 3 years ago from Amsterdam

      Damn I'm really afraid of sharks. But there is so much I never knew about sharks. I actually thought they didn't exist in the Med.

    • sharkfacts profile image

      sharkfacts 3 years ago from UK

      Tourists Boards play down their existence, so as not to frighten off hordes of holidaymakers. The risk of shark attack in the Med is pretty low, all the same :)

    • sharky 3 years ago

      i lov sharks the thing is i get scared if i see one in the sea but i think there really beautiful creatures

    • sarah 2 years ago

      I was snorkeling in southern Italy a few years ago I saw a small shark on the sea floor, close to the shore and it resembled a catfish and did not seem phased or aggressive at all. I have been trying to find out since then what sort of shark this could be. I think it could have been a baby nurse shark. Any advice? Thanks in advance.

    • sharkfacts profile image

      sharkfacts 2 years ago from UK

      Sounds like a nurse shark. They are harmless so long as you don't step on them.

    • 2 years ago

      How about shallow waters?

    • carrie Lee Night profile image

      Kept private 2 years ago from Northeast United States

      Great Article :) I snorkeled around Sardina, never saw a shark, but I heard that Great Whites breed there :) Thanks for sharing.

    • RetroBrothers profile image

      Martin Allan 2 years ago from Sunny Scotland

      Great article. I've swam and snorkelled in the waters of many of the Greek islands and also Cyprus. I've never ever seen a shark (phew!), but have seen many other magnificent creatures.

      Great hub!

    • ma 17 months ago

      Bullshark catch in iskenderun Turkey is confirmed

    • Danny 16 months ago

      Great read I have been very interested in sharks since a young age. Just come back from Majorca and every time I go in the sea snorkelling I find myself wanting to See a shark don't know what I would do if I did see one tho. I read there was a sighting early this year there in shallow water possibly a young great white but wasn't confirmed

    • shark 5 months ago

      No shark is dangerous, there are only dangerous situations. I think this post is motivated by movies like jaws but not by scientific facts. I wonder if a similar post would be made about dogs or mosquito species which are a lot more dangerous then sharks.

      Shame on you for fueling the fear of people, rather than helping to protect these ecological so important predetors!

    • sharkfacts profile image

      sharkfacts 5 months ago from UK

      You are entitled to your opinion. Can think of a million situations where an otherwise benign shark becomes dangerous, so to that extent your comment is true.

      One of those situations is swimming in their environment, perhaps when they are hungry.

      Humans don't have to swim in the open ocean. Sharks do.

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