Atlantic Sharpnose Shark
The Atlantic sharpnose shark is found from New Brunswick, Canada south along the Atlantic seaboard and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. This small shark is a year round resident in the coastal waters of South Carolina, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. It frequently is found in the surf zone, estuaries, and bays, where it prefers mud and sand bottoms during the summer. During the winter, individuals move to deeper waters.
Sharpnose sharks are smallish sharks, typically in the two to four foot range. The have the distinctive feature of two dorsal fins; one located above the pectoral rear tips, the second smaller fin is located above the anal fin. The fins may be black-edged, especially in younger fish. Their snouts are long with furrows in lips around the mouth corners. Their slender bodies are brownish to olive-gray or blue-gray on the top shading to a white underside. The teeth are triangular shaped with smooth edges and similar on both the upper and lower jaws.
Atlantic sharpnose sharks are viviparous, providing nutrition to the pups through a placental sac. They return inshore in the spring from wintering in deeper waters to give birth after a 10-11 month gestation period. Litters run from 1 to 7 pup. They then mate during late spring and early summer. The pups grow fast, reaching maturity after 3 to 4 years. It has been reported these sharks may live up to 12 years in the wild.
The diet of the Atlantic sharpnose consists of fish, worms, shrimp, crabs, and mollusks. Fish commonly eaten include menhaden, eels, silversides, wrasses, jacks, toadfish, and filefish.
Atlantic Sharpnose Shark in Texas
Body elongate; snout moderately long and pointed; color brown to gray above, pale below, a few scattered white spots on sides; the origin of the 2nd dorsal fin is posterior to the origin on the anal fin; no interdorsal ridge; 2nd dorsal fin and caudal fin with dark edges; labial folds (in the corners of the mouth) well-developed, long; upper teeth angular, notch on outer edge, inner edge finely serrated.
This is the only shark with its dorsal fin origin behind to anal fin origin, except for the smalltail shark which has short labial furrows and strongly serrated teeth.
Gulf, enters bay occasionally to feed
Maximum Size 110 cm (3 1/2 ft), common to 70 cm (27 1/2 in)
State size/bag limits
Minimum size 24 in.; bag limit is 1 shark/day, including sharpnose, blacktips, bonnetheads, and all other allowable shark species.