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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Sharks

Marine Fisheries

Sharks

Rhizoprionodon terraenovae (Atlantic sharpnose)
Carcharhinus limbatus (blacktip shark)
Isurus oxyrinchus (shortfin mako)
Mustelus canis (smooth dogfish)

At least 73 species of sharks inhabit the waters of the U.S. Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. The four discussed here represent those most commonly caught by recreational fishermen in North Carolina. They also represent four ecological categories of sharks used for management purposes.

Atlantic sharpnose sharks represent the small coastal shark group managed under the National Marine Fisheries Service Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish and Sharks. The group also includes blacknose, finetooth and bonnethead sharks.

Atlantic sharpnose sharks have long, slender bodies with long flattened snouts. They are a brownish-gray color on top with a white underside. Juveniles have black edges on the dorsal and caudal fins and may have small white spots on the side.

The species is found inshore in the surf and bays and estuaries, but also in shallower offshore waters. They grow to about 4 feet.

Blacktip sharks represent the large coastal shark group under the federal plan. The group also includes sandbar, silky tiger, bull, spinner, lemon, nurse, hammerhead and dusky sharks.

Blacktip sharks are stout bodied with a long, pointed snout, long gill slits and erect, narrow-cusped upper teeth. The first dorsal fin is slightly posterior to the pectoral fins high on the midsection of the body, and it has a pointed tip. They are dark gray or blue to brown on the upper body with a white or yellowish-white belly. The tips of the pelvic fins are persistently black, while the tips of pectoral fins, first and second dorsal fins and lower caudal lobe are black in the young, but fade with growth. They are found in inshore and nearshore waters, often near river mouths and bays. They can grow to as long as 9 feet.

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N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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