There may be a few reasons why you would like to know if bull sharks are aggressive, particularly towards humans and if they are likely to attack you.
For example, you may live in an area where Bull Shark sightings are common, like Florida, or you’re a keen scuba diver.
If you’re regularly in waters where Bull Sharks have been spotted it’s important to know the level of harm they post.
In our article we’ll find out if bull sharks are aggressive and what makes them aggressive, as well as their size and diet, as this can give us an insight into just how dangerous they are if you get too close.
Let’s get into it!
How Big Are Bull Sharks? (How Much Do They Weigh?)
Bull sharks are considered to be one of the most dangerous sharks in the world, but little is known about them and they are often misunderstood.
Bull sharks can grow to an astonishing size, with their sex and weight being a factor in how large they can grow.
Whether male or female, the average size of a Bull Shark will be 11 feet, but adult females can reach a staggering 18 feet in length.
Bull Sharks are one of the top predators in the world, despite being smaller than the Great White. Bull Sharks can weigh around 272 kg at the most, but their average weight tends to be 125 kg and 170 kg.
Why Are Bull Sharks Aggressive?
Before we get into how aggressive Bull Sharks are, let’s clear up a common misconception about aggressive behavior in animals, particularly aggression displayed by Bull Sharks.
A lot of people equate animal aggression with human aggression and act like being aggressive is the worst thing an animal can be, which of course is a problem in pets that spend a lot of time around humans, but not necessarily in wild animals who are not meant to be around humans.
In fact, most animals need to be aggressive around humans to protect themselves and to survive.
Humans have long evolved from beyond the point where we need to hunt to survive, but this is not the case with animals – carnivores, in particular.
Bull sharks are, of course, carnivores. Hunting is rightly perceived to be aggressive behavior, but Bull Sharks need to be aggressive and fast as part of their hunting strategy otherwise they would starve.
While herbivores are generally less aggressive than carnivores due to the fact that they don’t hunt for their food, they also need to display some level of aggression in order to protect themselves from attacks from animals and humans.
Take a hippopotamus, for instance, one of the most dangerous herbivores in Africa.
Unfortunately, it may be the case that humans end up in the middle of the feeding habits of Bull Sharks.
It is always important to remember that when we’re scuba diving we’re entering into the space of dangerous predators.
This is especially the case with Bull Sharks who live in both saltwater oceans and freshwater rivers, this means we come into contact with Bull Sharks more than any other sharks.
One other theory as to why Bull Sharks are aggressive is that they have high levels of testosterone, and it is even believed that Bull Sharks have more testosterone than any other animals on earth which makes them particularly aggressive.
Bull Sharks Vs Great White Sharks: Who Is More Aggressive?
While hunting, Bull Sharks display the same aggression as Great White Sharks, but Bull Sharks are still one of the most aggressive animals in the world.
Despite this, Great Whites are still incredibly aggressive and are more responsible for attacks on humans and more human fatalities than Bull Sharks, or any other type of shark for that matter.
Bull Sharks are never excessively aggressive, they’re only as aggressive as is necessary to hunt their prey.
How Dangerous Are Bull Sharks?
Bull Sharks can be dangerous, not just for their aggression but because they can live in both saltwater and freshwater they can migrate up rivers.
Due to the fact that they can sometimes live in brackish shallow water on the coast this makes them more likely to interact with people which makes them dangerous.
Bull Sharks can also be unpredictable, which makes them more dangerous. However, Bull Sharks are not strictly ‘bad’ animals.
There is in fact no such thing as a bad animal, but we view certain animals as bad because of the danger they pose to us, either because of the diseases they can spread or because of how seriously they can attack us.
For example, sharks are labelled as bad because of how scared people are of them. But sharks are simply carnivores like any other that need to hunt in order to survive.
It is a sad truth that we pose more of a threat to sharks than they do us, due to the pollution we cause to their habitats.
Are Young Bull Sharks Dangerous?
Because Bull Sharks are dangerous predators, it’s unsurprising that when reports of baby Bull Sharks being spotted come out, people living in the area fear for their safety. But what threat do Baby Sharks pose to your area?
Truthfully, Baby Sharks pose very little threat to humans, and this is because they’re yet to develop that aggressive hunting instinct.
Baby Bull Sharks are a lot more timid than their parents because they don’t need to act aggressively in order to survive, with a diet mainly consisting of small fish and plankton.
Adult Bull Sharks meanwhile will protect their territory against anybody they perceive to be an intruder, even if they mean no harm.
Bull Sharks are very territorial animals who will bite and attack anybody who gets too close, and this is also true when their babies are nearby.
How Aggressive Are Bull Sharks To Humans?
When it comes to shark attack by species, Bull Sharks are the third most responsible for shark attacks after Tiger Sharks and Great White Sharks.
We cannot deny that Bull Sharks are capable of killing humans and have done so. This is perhaps no surprise when you consider that Bull Sharks can grow up to 11 feet in length.
A Bull Shark may attack a human without the intention of eating them, but just to give a warning bite to tell the human to stay away. However, if a Bull Shark hits a major artery when biting a human this can be fatal.
Unfortunately, there have been a total of 117 confirmed attacks on humans by Bull Sharks, all of these being completely unprovoked.
Twenty-five of these attacks were deadly. Meanwhile, 34 attacks by Tiger Sharks were fatal, while 52 attacks by Great White Sharks were fatal.
Bull Sharks will very rarely attack humans on purpose because they don’t usually eat humans, so any attack will usually be down to the Bull Sharks feeling threatened or curious.
Bull Shark attacks on humans usually occur in estuaries and rivers.
When Bull Shark attacks happen in silty rivers, this is usually due to the shark mistaking somebody swimming for prey, or they’re confused and curious and will take a bite out of a human.
Where Are You Most Likely To Be Attacked By A Bull Shark?
As we just touched on, you are most likely to be attacked by Bull Sharks in estuaries and rivers where the water is brackish and visibility is poor.
Bull Sharks are found in rivers including the Amazon River and the Mississippi River, and some sharks have been found about 55 miles up the Mississippi close to Illinois.
Bull Sharks are also more likely to take place in the shallow weather around the river mouths, as this is where Bull Sharks are more likely to hunt for prey.
If you’re close to an area where Bull Sharks are hunting, it is highly likely you will be mistaken for food, especially if you’re swimming later on in the day.
How Do Bull Sharks Attack Their Prey?
Bull Sharks mainly feed on opportunistic prey, and they attack them by employing a ‘bump and bite’ technique.
Once they’ve attacked their prey, they will bite relentlessly until the prey is incapacitated and they can’t get away. They will then bite chunks out of the prey.
Since humans are not the normal prey of Bull Sharks, they will not relentlessly attack them in order to devour them.
Instead, once a Bull Shark has bitten you it will swim away as long as it doesn’t feel provoked. Still, even one bite from a Bull Shark can be fatal.
What Do Bull Sharks Like To Eat? (Do They Eat Humans?)
Bull Sharks have a wide-ranging diet that includes fish, shellfish, crabs, turtles, stingrays, dolphins, birds and even other sharks.
While Bull Sharks are not interested in eating humans generally, if they’re staring and given the chance they will eat almost anything, including humans.
Can Bull Sharks Be Friendly To Humans?
Bull Sharks are not big fans of humans and more likely to act aggressively than friendly towards them, especially when they feel provoked.
They are most often provoked by spearfishermen, who will usually fish in Bull Shark habitats. As Bull Sharks are opportunistic, spearfishermen might seem like an easy catch.
What Is The Lifespan Of A Bull Shark?
Bull Sharks can reach the age of 30 years old, and do not reach sexual maturity until they are 12 years old.
However, their average lifespan is as little as 8 years, although this will differ depending on factors such as where the Bull Shark lives.
A lot of people don’t realise that there are a few species of sharks that are able to live in freshwater, the Bull Shark being one of them.
However, while scientists have found that Bull Sharks are capable of living in freshwater they are more likely to live in saltwater, and studies have shown that Bull Sharks who live in freshwater only live for about 4 to 5 years.
You may have thought that the Bull Shark lives strictly in the ocean and while they do live in the ocean and do better in saltwater environments they can live in freshwater too, thanks to their kidneys that have evolved to remove excess salt from its blood.
Are Bull Sharks Endangered?
We have already mentioned that Bull Sharks are incredibly misunderstood, and often grouped in with the most dangerous sharks in the globe.
While Bull Sharks are dangerous, is their ferocious reputation warranted? And have we posed a bigger threat to Bull Sharks than they have to us?
As it is generally believed that the bad reputation of all types of sharks hinders conservation efforts to save sharks.
The Bull Shark was once one of the most common sharks to spot in the ocean, but in 2013 it was officially categorized as endangered and its status has steadily declined ever since.
You can still find Bull Sharks in some parts of the globe, but there are definitely fewer Bull Sharks in the world than it once was, and some experts and conservationists believe that the Bull Shark will soon become extinct if we don’t take drastic steps to protect them from things like habitat pollution, destruction of their habitat, and poaching.
Due to the fact that humans are not normal prey for Bull Sharks, it is safe to swim in waters with Bull Sharks present and scuba divers don’t need to worry too much.
However, you should always be careful and take the necessary precautions when swimming in waters with sharks, as Bull Sharks are one of the most aggressive species of sharks, especially when provoked.