Animals

Shark Q&A: Are Bull Sharks Especially Aggressive?

An expert who has spent untold hours among them argues that the fish are actually skittish around people.

As we close in on Shark Week's final shows, Discovery News puts another question to a shark expert, this one about bull sharks. Do they get a bad rap? We asked biologist Lindsay Graff, who has a ton of experience with bull sharks, diving innumerable times among them in Fiji. Lindsay works with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC) and is also a member of the Gills Club, a group of female shark scientists who focus on mentoring and educating young females who are interested in sharks and fields within STEM.

Follow the Gills Club and AWSC on Instagram: @a_whiteshark and @gillsclub

Here's Lindsay's answer:

"Bull sharks are really unique compared to other shark species because they are euryhaline, which means that they are able to adapt to a wide range of salinities and marine environments such as river mouths, bays, and estuaries. This means that bull sharks tend to come into contact with humans more often than other shark species, which has resulted in bull sharks being labeled as more 'ferocious' or aggressive than other shark species due to the higher number of human-shark interactions.

"However, during my many, many hours of diving with bull sharks over the last four years, this has proven to be a misconception about them. Every single dive with these sharks on Shark Reef Marine Reserve in Fiji, puts you face-to-face with 40-65 bull sharks (ranging in sizes from 5-12 feet) and gives you a unique glimpse into the true nature of these sharks.

"They're still strong and assertive, but they're also shy and skittish around humans, and -- more importantly for people to know -- completely disinterested in anything except their fish meals. The best way to truly have an understanding and appreciation for these beautiful marine creatures is to spend some time in the water with them!"

Tune in to Discovery Channel all this week at 9/8c for Shark Week.