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Atlantic Sharpnose Shark

Rhizoprionodon terraenovae

Distinguishing Characteristics

Illustration of an Atlantic sharpnose shark showing important characteristics
  • Body is slender, brown to olive-gray on back, fading to a whitish belly
  • Snout is long and sharply rounded
  • Very long upper labial furrow (groove around the lips)
  • Dorsal and caudal fins with black edges, especially in juveniles
  • First dorsal fin starts well behind pectoral fin
  • Second dorsal fin starts over or behind the middle of the anal fin
  • Adults may have small white spots on sides
  • No interdorsal ridge

Similar Species: Blacknose shark, C. acronotus (has dark snout tip) 


Adults mature between 2 and 3 feet long (about 2-4 years of age) and rarely grow more than 3.5 feet long. Maximum observed ages in recent studies have shown this species can live up to at least 9 years.


Coastal waters; can be found near the surf zone; common in bays and estuaries.

Adults also found offshore.


Feeds on small fishes (baitfish, jacks, and silversides) and invertebrates (crabs, shrimp, and mollusks).


Pregnant females migrate offshore after mating occurs in late spring and early summer.  Females return 10-11 months later to give birth to live young in nearshore areas. Broods contain 4-7 pups. Size at birth 11-15 inches.

Additional Information

This abundant, small coastal shark is caught frequently and targeted for their meat. However, their small fin size makes them less valuable to commercial fisheries than other species of shark. Commonly caught as bycatch in the shrimp fisheries.

Recreational Regulations

Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles