Trivia

Hard

Which Shark Species Can Survive In Fresh Water?

Bull Sharks
Mako Sharks
Hammerhead Sharks
Lemon Sharks
A close-up photograph of a bull shark in brackish water.
Albert kok/Wikimedia

Answer: Bull Sharks

If your fear of sharks has driven you to settle down far inland away from the shoreline and the specter of nearby sharks, perhaps you shouldn’t rest easy just yet. The bull shark is a species of large shark (adults are approximately 7.4 – 7.9 feet long and around 209 – 290 pounds) that has no trouble navigating freshwater as it has a sophisticated biological mechanism for adapting itself to brackish and freshwater.

Unlike other shark species that cannot venture into estuaries and rivers, the bull shark can easily glide into the mouth of a river and continue right up it into the mainland. In the United States, for example, bull sharks have been spotted as far up the Mississippi River as Alton, Illinois (a roughly 700 mile trip by river) and as far inland in as Iquitos, Peru (a roughly 2,500 mile trip up the Amazon River).

Sometimes the sharks even get a helping hand from Mother Nature and end up in the strangest of places. The severe flooding of Queensland, Australia in 1996 allowed bull sharks to move inland wherein several of them ended up trapped in the main lake of Brisbane’s Carbrook Golf Club. The golf course has embraced its new predatorial neighbors and hosts a monthly “Shark Lake Challenge” tournament.

Although we’d like to close this bit of trivia with a strong assurance that bull sharks pose little threat to people, they actually pose more of a threat to humans than nearly any other species as they prefer very shallow water, can move freely between interconnected bodies of salt and freshwater, and are effectively apex predators with nothing to fear but even larger sharks (such as the great white shark) that are unable to follow them into freshwater bodies. If you’re looking to avoid them, it might be time to pick up a plot of land out in New Mexico.

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