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Sandbar Shark

Carcharhinus plumbeus

Distinguishing Characteristics

Illustration of a sandbar shark showing important characteristics
  • Snout broadly rounded and short
  • First dorsal fin is large and high, begins over or in front of pectoral fin insertion
  • Back is brown or gray, fading to a white belly
  • Interdorsal ridge present

Similar Species: Dusky shark, C. obscurus (first dorsal starts over pectoral fin free tip); bull shark, C. leucas (no interdorsal ridge) 


Maximum size about 7.5 feet. A slow-growing species, both sexes reach maturity around 12-13 years (about 6 feet) and are estimated to live to 20+ years.


True to its name, it prefers coastal and offshore sandy areas of the Florida Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Exclusively a marine species, but known to venture near mouths of rivers and estuarine systems. Essentially a bottom-dwelling species found at depths up to 200 feet, but seasonally migrates into deeper water during summer months and returning to warmer waters during the winter.


An opportunistic bottom-feeder, the sandbar shark preys mostly on small fishes, eels, skates, rays, dogfish, octopus, squid, and crabs.


Mating occurs during mid-summer months and after 8-12 months of gestation, females give birth to live young in shallow, nearshore areas. Broods range from 6-10 pups. Size at birth about 22-26 inches.

Additional Information

Prohibited from recreational and commercial harvest in Florida state waters. Harvest is conditionally allowed through the federal research fisheries commercial harvest program, where NMFS observers are required to be onboard approved commercial vessels. Historically targeted in the longline fishery mainly for their fins, marketable flesh and hide. Due to its size, it is a potentially dangerous species and has been associated with few non-fatal bites on humans.

State Record: This species is not currently eligible for a state record.

Recreational Regulations

Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles