The Sharks of the Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are home to more sharks than any other area in the world. Here’s a list of the sharks you can see with Keys Shark Diving. Keys Shark Diving is the best way to see sharks up close and personal in the Florida Keys.
Your Shark Dive Partners
Tigers are large, heavy-bodied sharks that have stripes coming down their sides and across their fins, true to their Tiger name. They are a large shark species reaching up to 18 feet and weighing over 3,000 pounds. As opportunistic hunters, Tiger sharks can be found in a variety of oceanic environments on both shallow reefs and oceanic offshore waters. Tiger sharks are the second-largest predatory fish in the ocean and are powerful swimmers that can turn on the speed when necessary. While they regularly encounter divers and people with caution, they can also be very capable of being bold and aggressive without warning. Tigers sharks are known for eating a wide variety of prey to power their large and impressive bodies. Some of their natural food sources include sea turtles, birds, a large variety of fish species, squid and even dolphins and whales.
There are many types of hammerheads found in Florida’s waters. Most of them range from 5-12′ and up to 1,000 pounds. Hammerheads are found in both shallow reefs/sand bottom and deep offshore waters. Hammerheads are generally cautious but can become very aggressive when prey is around. These sharks use their T-shaped heads to hone in and track down prey from long distances. Hammers are strong fast sharks and can be found in large numbers depending on which species of shark. Stingrays and fish are hammerheads favorite prey items.
Bull sharks are one of the most dangerous shark species in the world. As a very aggressive shark species, the bull shark populates a wide range of environments the world over, being at home in both offshore and inshore water along with freshwater and brackish water sources. Bull Sharks are big, powerful sharks that are often found in packs known to hunt and swim together. While a bull shark can display caution when around divers, they can become almost instantly aggressive, especially when any food source is present in their surroundings. The bull shark can grow to be a very large shark with ranges from 5-14′ and can weigh over 1,500 pounds.
Lemon Sharks are a big shark species that lives primarily in inshore shallow waters. As one of the most abundant shark species native to Florida waters, they are often seen and encountered in shallow backcountry flats, shallow inshore water and along the edge of the Gulfstream waters. While they are capable of quick and impressive bursts of speed and aggression, the Lemon Shark is somewhat docile in nature. This impressive shark species averages anywhere from around 4′ – 7′ and can weigh in at 500 pounds.
As their name implies, the reef shark is an agile and fast shark that lives among shallow and deep reef environments that are native to the Florida Keys. The reef shark is a sub-tropic species that lives primarily worldwide on reef ecosystems. This shark species is frequently seen across the Caribbean, especially within South Florida, the Bahamas and other tropical island and reef environments. The reef shark primarily preys on smaller fish and is known to hunt with other reef sharks on reefs together as a pack. While usually skittish and cautious of divers, reef sharks can become aggressive, especially if there is bait or freshly killed fish in their native habitat. Reef sharks can grow anywhere from 4′ – 8′ and can reach up to 600 pounds.
Black Tip Shark
Black Tip Sharks are a smaller shark species that are fast and quick swimmers. They are capable of quick bursts of speed and are known to jump and breach the surface of the water, especially in the pursuit of their next meal. Black Tips normally live among shallow reef systems and backcountry flats around the state of Florida. They feed on a wide variety of food sources, including primarily other small fish species, crabs, and other small marine life. The black tip can rach up to 7 feet in length and can weigh as much as roughly 350 pounds.
Mako Sharks are a large and impressive pelagic shark species. As one of the more aggressive shark species, the Mako shark lives and stays in the deeper pelagic waters off of Florida, in most cases being found miles from shore. The Mako shark is also known as one of the fastest shark species, traveling at consistent speeds of 40 miles per hour and able to make large bursts of speed at any time. Here in Florida, and on our shark excursions, the Mako Shark is encountered almost exclusively way offshore in the deep waters. The Mako shark feeds primarily on fish, other sharks and other larger prey. This impressive shark species can grow to be very big, with lengths of over 12 feet and weights of over 1,200 pounds recorded.
Dusky Sharks are a large and powerful shark species that frequent the waters off the coast of Florida. As a highly migratory shark species, the Dusky shark can cover huge distances in their lifetime and can regularly be found in both nearshore and deep offshore waters. Dusky sharks feed almost primarily on smaller fish species, as well as smaller species of sharks. This powerful shark species can grow to lengths of over 10 feet and have been known to weigh as much as 1,000 pounds.
Nurse Sharks live in shallow waters and deep reefs. They feed mainly on crustaceans and smaller fish and have bone crushing jaws used to crack shells. Nurse sharks are often seen resting on sand flats and among coral structures. These sharks can grow up to 8′ and weigh over 400lbs.