10 Different Habitats Where You Can Find Sharks

Different sharks live in different habitats.

Many sharks, like bullheads and smoothhounds, stay near coastlines where there is a lot of food they like to eat. Other sharks, including threshers and oceanic whitetips, roam the open sea where they hunt for bigger fish across miles and miles of ocean. Here are 10 habitats where you can find sharks.


The intertidal zone is the area along the coast exposed by low tide. Intertidal zones are found along beaches and marshes, as well as rocky shores where tidal pools are formed. These are common breeding grounds for plants and small animals. The sharks that live here, including epaulette, Port Jackson and nurse sharks, patrol these shallow waters in search of clams, crabs, algae and starfish.


Estuaries are areas along the coast where freshwater meets saltwater. These areas are mostly enclosed by land, but connected to the sea and fed by freshwater rivers and streams. This results in a brackish mixture that supports a wide diversity of wildlife. A wide variety of sharks, including sandbar sharks, lemon sharks, bull sharks and bonnetheads, commonly hunt in estuaries.


Sandy plains are relatively shallow areas that make up a majority of the continental shelf (the edge of a continent that’s actually underwater). Characterized by soft sand and mud, these areas support a huge variety of small fish, crustaceans and other sea life. Great hammerheads, angel sharks, and sawsharks have keen senses that help them find prey here, even if it’s buried beneath the sands.


At first glance, rocky coasts seem inhospitable to life, but look below the surface and you’ll find most are actually teeming with it. As waves come crashing in to shore, rocks beneath the surface create shelter for tiny animals, and surface area for coral and algae to grow. Scalloped hammerheads, spiny dogfish, white sharks, and basking sharks often live and feed in these kinds of areas.


Kelp is a unique type of seaweed that lives in cool shallow waters. Like trees, they grow in thick, dense stands called kelp forests. Kelp is a source of food and shelter for many types of fish and other sea creatures. Leopard sharks and swellsharks stalk prey in the kelp forests. Hornsharks live here too, and even lay their young in corkscrew-shaped egg cases in the kelp.


Coral reefs cover less than 0.5% of the earth’s surface, yet experts estimate they’re home to 25% of all marine life. They’re second only to tropical rainforests in terms of size and complexity. Caribbean, blacktip, whitetip and gray reef sharks are common and active predators here. Even sharks that don’t have “reef” in their name, like zebra sharks, rely on coral reef communities for food.


The pelagic zone of the ocean is the biggest habitat on the planet—it has a volume of a whopping 330 million cubic miles! Fish that live in the pelagic zone live in large schools. In order to catch these fish, sharks that live in the open ocean are incredibly fast. Thresher, blue, silky, shortfin mako, and oceanic whitetip sharks are all perfectly designed for this challenging environment.


The ocean is really deep – over 2½ miles on average. Surprisingly, the dark depths are teaming with life – a startling variety of bizarre creature, many of which look like extras in a science fiction film. The sharks that live and hunt at these depths are eerie looking too, like the goblin shark with its nightmarish face, or the eel-like frilled shark, which looks like a miniature sea serpent.


While most sharks prefer warm or temperate water, one shark is built to withstand extreme cold. The Greenland shark lives in the northernmost waters of any shark – the icy seas of the Arctic Circle, where water temperatures can drop to 30° Fahrenheit. Its flesh is enhanced with chemicals that combine to create a natural antifreeze to help keep it from turning into an ice pop.


It’s hard to imagine sharks living in freshwater, but they’re there. There are 20 different shark species that can survive in freshwater lakes and rivers, including bull sharks, which have been found in unlikely rivers and lakes all over the world. While bull sharks have to migrate to saltwater to reproduce, five shark species actually live year-round in the rivers of Southeast Asia and Australia.

Sharkopedia : Where Sharks Live |

A Reef Isn't A Reef Without Sharks

Sharks and coral reefs go hand in hand. These habitats are popular feeding grounds for sharks. But as shark populations decline, reefs are increasingly at risk of vanishing too. Coral reefs thrive when there are lots of fish to consume algae, which helps new corals to grow. But without sharks, fish disappear too and algae take over, suffocating the corals and turning the reef into a wasteland.

Sharkopedia : Where Sharks Live |

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