Atlantic Sharpnose Shark

Common Name: Atlantic Sharpnose Shark

Scientific Name: Rhizoprionodon Terraenovae


The Atlantic sharpnose shark, named for its long, pointed snout, is one of at least five shark species found in South Carolina estuaries (where rivers meet the sea). This predatory fish averages less than three feet in length and feeds mainly on shrimp, crabs, worms, and small fish.


Grey to grey-brown with white ventral surface. Adults have small light (white) dots on body, white margins on pectoral fins and and dusky dorsal fin tips.


Western North Atlantic: New Brunswick to Florida, Bahamas and Gulf of Mexico.


Abundant. Lives over continental shelf, mainly in shallow water (less than 30 ft) but has been found down to 900 ft. Tolerant to different salinities, and can be found in estuaries and river mouths. During winter months they migrate into deeper waters. Sharpnose sharks can form big schools of same sex and size.


Small fishes, crustaceans and molluscs. Size: Average size between 2.5 to 3 ft, maximum total length about 4 ft.


Gives birth to live young (viviparous, with yolksac-placenta). Normally 4 to 6 pups per litter, although can vary from 1 to 7. Pups are born in unprotected nursery grounds. Fast growth, reaching maturity after 3 to 4 years with a size of 2 to 2.5 ft. (males) and 2.5 to 3 ft. (females).

Similar Species

None. This is the species locally called "sand sharks"

Population Status


Danger to Humans

Harmless (although any species of captured shark can - and will try - to bite a careless angler). Newfoundland, Canada, to Argentina, including Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. Common in U.S. Northeast and mid-Atlantic.