December 18 2015
When you think about shark fishing, you probably think of the infamous movie Jaws and the large Tiger shark that attacks the boat. Fortunately, recreational shark fishing off Cocoa Beach isn’t anything like the heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat action thriller from 40+ years ago.
Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic coasts are home to a wide variety of shark species, and yes, some attacks do happen like this one in Cocoa Beach in November 2015. Fishing for these mysterious aquatic species is a popular sport and provide an exhilarating fight like no other. While some of these species are endangered and therefore strictly regulated, it is possible to enjoy certain types of sharks for food or other novelties.
Continue reading to learn more about 7 of the most common sharks you may land on a Cocoa Beach fishing charter according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
1. Blacktip shark – common to bays, estuaries and nearshore waters around Florida, the Blacktip shark sometimes leaps out of the water. They grow to about 6 feet in length and are one of the most desirable sharks for their flesh, hide, fins and liver. This shark species has a bluish gray body with black on the tips of each of its fins (except one). Blacktips feed on small fish, small sharks, squids, crabs, octopus and lobster.
2. Bonnethead shark – lives mostly in shallow sand and mud flats close to shore, but will move to deeper water in the winter months. Only growing to around 3.5 feet, the Bonnethead is the smallest shark in the hammerhead family. Their primary diet consists of crabs, shrimp, small fish and clams. While the Bonnethead is edible, it’s mostly fished for sport or crab bait. Its body is a gray or grayish-brown color and its head is shaped like a shovel. The Bonnethead is a popular shark for aquariums.
3. Bull shark – occupying inshore, nearshore and offshore waters, the Bull shark is one of only a few sharks who can live in both fresh and saltwater. As the name implies, the Bull shark is a dominant species under the water. Their diet consists of a wide variety of marine life, including other sharks, bony fishes, sea turtles, rays, dolphins and more. Bull sharks can grow up to 11 feet long. While a hardy species, Bull sharks are not a large part of the fishery. They are also one of the most dangerous to humans.
4. Great Hammerhead shark – often confused with the Scalloped Hammerhead shark, the Great Hammerhead grows up to 18 feet long and is pretty nomadic. They will often live around coral reefs but are known to be around the mouths of bays and inlets. Great Hammerheads will migrate north along the U.S. Atlantic coast in the summer months. They primarily feed on stingrays, grouper, sharks, crabs and squid. These sharks are also desirable for their fins and are considered dangerous to humans, but not nearly as dangerous as a Bull shark.
5. Lemon shark – commonly found in abundant numbers in inshore and nearshore areas of both Florida coasts, Lemon sharks typically go south or into deeper waters in the winter months and especially enjoy wrecks and ledges. They can grow up to 10.5 feet long, have a yellow-grayish body and feed on a variety of things, including other sharks, rays, bony fish, crustaceans and even birds. Lemon sharks are not a big part of the commercial/recreational fishery, and while not known to be particularly dangerous to humans, attacks have happened in the past.
6. Nurse shark – lives close to shore on both the Gulf and Atlantic coast of Florida and is one of only a few sharks that is found lying on the bottom of the ocean floor. Nurse sharks are a rusty yellow-brown color and average around 6-9 feet long with some growing up to 14 feet. They have a fleshy appendage, called a barbell, hanging below their nose which helps them detect prey. Nurse sharks are generally found in coral reefs, rocks and mangroves. They feed primarily on lobster, shrimps, crabs, urchins, but sometimes feed on small fish like grunts. Nurse sharks generally aren’t desired commercially in North America. Most of the few attacks on humans were provoked.
7. Tiger shark – made famous in the movie Jaws, the Tiger shark is a common species in Florida and throughout the world’s tropical and warm-temperate waters. They can be found in bays, river mouths and the open ocean, and can grow up to 18 feet long and weigh 2000 pounds. Tiger sharks, like the Bull shark, will eat just about anything, including sea turtles, bony fish, birds, other sharks, dolphins, conch, crabs and even garbage. Recognized as a big-game fish by the International Game Fish Association, the Tiger shark is very dangerous, second only to the Great White in terms of attacks on humans.
Which type of shark you end up fishing for on a Cocoa Beach charter depends on a variety of factors, including water depth, the time of year and general water conditions. While sharks do feed on live bait like shrimp and crabs, many shark anglers use artificial lures to land one of these magnificent beasts. To learn more about fishing for sharks in Cocoa Beach or to schedule a charter, we invite you to contact OFishal Business Charters today. Captains Alex Sorice and Kyle Larson have extensive experience with this special type of fishing, and can help you experience the thrill of fighting and landing a shark.
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