Often thought of in a negative light, there are a number of shark species found in the Gulf of Mexico that are recreationally fished, and the most popular species include bull sharks, blacktip sharks, and the Alabama spinner shark. Shark species are migratory, and there are strict regulations for shark fishing.
One of the most recognized varieties, bull sharks are pale to dark gray and short with heavy bodies. Bull sharks are widespread and are often found close to shore from Massachusetts to Brazil. They will enter water that is less than a meter deep, especially for feeding. Bull sharks will also enter fresh water and are opportunistic eaters known to consume birds, dolphins, and turtles. They can reach a length of 11 feet and live to around 15 years.
Another variety, blacktip sharks are found inshore and offshore in tropical and subtropical waters. Blacktip sharks have a long pointed snout and small eyes. The species is gray-brown or blue-gray in color with black tips on the fins. These sharks are commonly found in inshore waters off of rivers and estuaries, near muddy bays, and around coral reefs. They are fast swimmers that primarily eat fish and rarely attack humans. Blacktip sharks reach a length of 8 feet and weigh around 50 lbs.
Spinner sharks are long and slender with a pointed snout. The species is a gray-bronze color with a white belly. Spinner sharks have nearly a world-wide distribution and are found in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Spinners are schooling sharks that can be highly migratory. They eat fish, small sharks, and rays. Spinners average a length of 6 feet and can weigh up to 110 lbs.
Spinner sharks have a feeding strategy that includes leaping out of the water. They speed vertically with an open mouth through schools of fish, and the speed propels the shark to break the water’s surface. They are not usually dangerous to humans and are valued by commercial fisheries and recreational fishers. This shark prefers water less than 100 feet deep.