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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Sharks

Marine Fisheries


Shortfin mako sharks represent the pelagic shark group managed under the federal plan. The group also includes longfin mako, thresher, big eye thresher, oceanic whitetip, sevengill, sixgill, bigeye sixgill, porbeagle and blue sharks. Shortfin mako sharks have half-moon-shaped caudal fins with a lateral keel at the base of the tail. The snout is conical and pointed. They are a deep blue color on top shading to metallic blue sides and snow-white belly. The teeth are long and bladelike. They are found offshore, often near the surface. They are common at 6 to 8 feet long, but can grow as large as 13 feet.

Smooth dogfish are in the dog-fish category of sharks, which also includes spiny dogfish.

Smooth dogfish have a slender body with two dorsal fins nearly equal in size. The second dorsal fin sits slightly ahead of the anal fin. They have cat-like eyes and are a tan-gray, slate-gray or brown on top with a white, grayish-white or yellowish belly. They are the most commonly caught shark species along the North Carolina coast. They are found in
waters less than 60 feet deep during the spring and summer and are often discarded by pier and surf fishermen. They can grow to about 5 feet.

Populations of some shark species have been in decline for many years prompting state and federal management agencies to implement many catch restrictions to control harvest. Possession of many species is prohibited. Because sharks are difficult to identify, fishermen should take great care to research the proper identification of sharks before keeping one.

Places to start researching sharks are the Florida Museum of Natural History website at www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/ and the National Marine Fisheries Service website at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/sharks.html.
A brochure titled Shark Sense: Atlantic and Gulf Regions is also available through the N.C. Sea Grant website at  www.ncseagrant.org/.

The World Fish Center maintains a searchable database of fish species at www.fishbase.org/home.htm.

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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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