The Chesapeake’s warm waters often attract sharks in search of food. The most common of these is the sandbar shark, the most wide-ranging coastal shark in the world. Although the idea of a shark swimming in our area may scare some, there has never been a recorded shark attack in Maryland’s waters – including the Bay.
The sandbar shark is brown to dark gray in color with a whitish belly and a narrow ridge between its two dorsal fins. An adult sandbar may be 8 feet long, however, the young that are most often found in the Bay are about 2 to 3 feet long. They feed mostly on blue crabs, as well as other invertebrates and bottom fishes.
A female gives birth to eight to 10 live young after carrying them for 12 months. Juveniles then move into the Bay in large schools, visiting the Bay in the summer and fall. Often found in shallow coastal waters, they are active at night, dawn and dusk. For this species, the lower Bay is a significant nursery area. At the end of fall, they leave the Bay for warmer southern waters.
Illustration of Sandbar
Shark by Diane Rome Peebles,