Home Fishing Tips & Advice The 10 Biggest Sharks in the World

The 10 Biggest Sharks in the World

whale shark

Sharks are one of the world’s most misunderstood creatures in the animal kingdom, equally revered and feared. Their predatory skills are an evolutionary marvel, but so much about these creatures with vast traveling distances remain undiscovered. Some sharks can be the size of trout and relatively harmless, but some species of shark can be enormous, and we will discover.

The biggest sharks on record are the Whale shark, the Basking Shark and the Megamouth shark which lucky for us, do not eat human prey. The Tiger Shark and Great White are also on the biggest shark list and unlucky for us, they have been known to take a taste of human flesh. The Thresher Shark, Bluntnose, and Greenland Shark and the Pacific Sleeper are lesser-known giants of the shark world.

If you are fascinated with these creatures from the deep then read on to find out more about the 10 biggest sharks in the world.

1. The Whale Shark (Rhincodon Typus) 18.8m (62ft) 9 ton (20,000lb)

The Whale shark is a filter feeder and is one of 40 species of shark so named because of the decorative patterns on their bodies that look like carpets. The Whale shark is a record winning as the world’s largest living non-mammal vertebrate. They feed on small fish and plankton, which mean that they are safe for humans.

The whale shark is so large that in a study, they found that a 12.1 (39.7ft) specimen had a month span of 1.55meters (5ft1) across. They can be found in tropical oceans, but there are not many left as overfishing has led them to the brink of extinction.

2. The Basking Shark 7.9m (26ft) to 12.27m (40.3ft) 4.65 Tons

The basking shark is one of the second-biggest sharks in the world and is a slow-swimming filter feeder and is a migratory species found in most of the temperate oceans of the world. It is called a basking shark because it tends to feed on the surface of the water and appears to be ‘basking’ in the sunlight. 25% of the basking shark’s body mass is taken up by its liver, which is thought to aid buoyancy and provide energy reserves.

The basking shark is not a danger to humans as they are shy and do not approach boats even for chum. They are fast disappearing due to overfishing and are a protected species in many areas.

3. The Megamouth Shark (Megachasma pelagios) 4.9m (18ft) 1.215kg (2,679lb)

The megamouth shark is a slow-moving deep water filter feeder that is very seldom encountered by humans. In fact,, only a hundred or so specimens have been observed or caught since 1976. It has a distinctive large head and rubbery lips and has been observed to have a mouth span of over four feet. They feed on plankton and jellyfish and are not a threat to humans.

The megamouth is a poor swimmer with a stout flabby body and a large head and has a bright white strip under its upper lip. They are slower moving than their and boast 50 rows of upper teeth and up to 75 rows in their lower jaw.  More than 74% of their sightings or capture have been along the Kuroshio current, including the Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan.

The one recorded specimen tagged near the surface of the water in California was noted to dive deeper in the day and ascend at night to 12-25 meters (39-82ft) at a slow 1.5 -2.1 km/ph. This slow movement is common for the species as they track the movement of plankton in the water column.

4. The Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier)  5.5m (18.1ft) 1524kg (3.360lb)

The tiger shark is the fourth-biggest shark in the world and belongs to the species of Requiem shark. They are found in most temperate waters, especially around the central Pacific. It is named for the dark stripes that cover the shark’s body, which fade as the shark grows older. They are solitary, nocturnal hunters, and have such a wide range of diet that they have been known as “garbage eater,” with many man-made items landing up in its stomach.

Tiger sharks have been known to attack humans though they prefer turtles, seals, fish, squid, and sea snakes, to name a few. They have been hunted ruthlessly by the finning industry and fishing industry and are considered a threatened species.

5. The Greenland Shark (Somniosus microcephalus) 7.3m (24ft) 1400kg (3,100lb)

The Greenland shark is not only one of the biggest sharks in the world but the of the oldest living of all vertebrates, with estimated ages of 300-500 years. The Greenland shark is part of the family Somniosidae or sleeper sharks and is restricted to the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean. This apex predator enjoys larger fish seals and scavenged meat and uses a rolling action of its mouth to anchor the prey in its top jaw and pull off chunks of meat with its lower jaw.

It is also known to scavenge and be attracted to the scent of dead meat in the water. One was once discovered with an entire moose in its stomach. Because the Greenland shark lives in such cold water, it does not often come into contact with humans, and thus, no attacks have been recorded.

6. The Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) 6.1m (20ft) 2,268kg (5000lb)

The Great White is the most fearsome as well as one of the ten biggest sharks in the world. The great White hails from the mackerel shark species so named because of its preferred prey of herrings mackerel and sardines. The Great White is a true apex predator with no real threats in the ocean besides killer whales (and, of course, humans.)With a speed of 25km/hr (16mph) and a range of 1200 meters, they are incredible hunters.

The Great White has claimed more human victims than any other shark breed and was vilified in the movie “Jaws.”They are now a protected species in many parts of the world and are one of the few sharks that can not be kept in captivity due to its diversity of diet and broad migration patterns. The Great White is found on most coastal and offshore areas of between 12 and 24 degrees Celsius.

7. The Great Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna mokarran)6.1 m (20ft) 453kgs (1000lbs)

The Great Hammerhead Shark belongs to the family Sphyrnidae and is found in tropical and warm waters across the world. The large hammer-shaped snout is called a ‘cephalafoil,’ and this protuberance makes it one of the most distinctive of the biggest sharks. Some scientists suggest that the shark’s hammer-shaped snout is an adaptation to immobilize stingrays, one of the shark’s favorite prey. Because they are hunted for their fins, they are now considered a critically endangered species.

8. The Thresher Shark (Alopius valpinus) 6.1 m (20ft) 500kg (1,100lb)

The Thresher Shark is named after its distinctive and disproportionately large and muscular tail, which it uses to stun its prey. They are commonly found on open waters and prefer waters over 500m deep in the continual shelves of Asia and North America.

They prefer a diet of fish such as tuna and mackerel, but they also prey on cuttlefish, squid,, and sometimes birds. They aren’t a threat to humans, and there is only one recorded human bite, where the victim grabbed the shark by its tail.

9. The Bluntnose Sixgill Shark (Hexanchus griseus) 6.1m (20ft) 400kg (880lb) 

The Bluntnose Sixgill belongs to the family Hexanchidae and is found in tropical waters worldwide. The Bluntnose prefers deeper water of 100 meters (330ft), or more but their depth can range up to 2,500m (8,202ft.) The Bluntnose Sixgill can usually be seen near the surface only at night.

The Bluntnose has a wide variety of prey from crabs, squid, rays, and fish to seals and smaller sharks. They are not known to attack humans and there is only one recorded attack since the 1500s. 

10. The Pacific Sleeper Shark (Somniosus Pacificus) 7m (23ft) 888-kg (1,958lb)

The sleeper shark is named for its slow-swimming action and non-aggressive demeanor. They are both scavengers and predators and use an almost silent swimming action and catch their prey with stealth. Unlike your typical idea of a shark hunting, they have large mouths that suck up their prey into their mouths to reach their teeth.

They are found in the north Pacific and parts of the Arctic slopes and may be spotted on the surface and up to staggering depths of 2000 meters (6,500 feet). But don’t worry, humans are not on their prey list, and they prefer smaller creatures like small fish and squid. Although their average size is not enormous 4.4m (14ft) they have been known to grow more than 7m (23ft)

Conclusion

Sharks are amazing examples of evolution and are an essential part of the ocean ecosystem. Sharks are being hunted to the edge of extinction and must be protected by all means possible. Due to their large size, the biggest 10 sharks in the world are in the most danger and deserve our attention and reverance.

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Growing up on the south shore of Long Island, Chum Charlie has always had a passion for fishing. His favorite fish to catch is a striped bass and his favorite bait to use is bunker. Off the water, he enjoys blogging and sharing his favorite fishing tips & tricks that he has learned over the years.