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Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 03, 2021

15 Fin-tastic Facts About Bignose Shark For Kids

Interesting facts about bignose sharks.

This article is about a special species of shark that belongs to the Carcharhinidae family, and it will tell you everything you need to know about them including their distribution, range, habitat, length and weight, physical description, feeding, breeding, and nesting habits!

The bignose shark (Carcharhinus altimus) species is the genus of Carcharhinus and was formerly described and introduced in 1950 by Stewart Springer, an American ichthyologist. The word 'altimus' is derived from the Latin word 'altus', meaning 'deep', which is a reference to the deep-water inhabited by these sharks. Their distribution occurs in every ocean of the world such as the central Atlantic, eastern Atlantic, and western Indian Ocean. They can also be found along the coasts of the USA, Venezuela, and western Africa. Sharks of this species are found at depths of 300–1,410 ft (90–430 m), and occasionally near continental shelves. After sunset or during the night, they often move to shallower or surface waters to forage.

These sharks have a long and pointed snout, sharp triangular teeth, prominent nasal flaps, straight pectoral fins, an interdorsal ridge, and two dorsal fins. The first dorsal fin is located near the pectoral fins, while the second dorsal fin is placed near the anal fin. The pectoral fins are slightly darker than the other features. They grow at least 8.9–9.2 ft (2.7–2.8 m) in length. Bignose sharks feed on smaller sharks and rays and are viviparous. They do not pose a threat to humans, as they rarely come to the surface. They are caught by fishermen for their meat, fins, skin to make leather, and liver oil.

Learn about some other fish from our saw shark facts and bonnethead shark facts pages.

Bignose Shark Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a bignose shark?

The bignose shark (Carcharhinus altimus) is a fish belonging to the Animalia kingdom.

What class of animal does a bignose shark belong to?

The bignose shark (Carcharhinus altimus) belongs to the Chondrichthyes class and is the genus Carcharhinus.

How many bignose sharks are there in the world?

Accurate data about their population size is unknown. However, this species is considered to be endangered.

Where does a bignose shark live?

Their native range or distribution occurs across the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, coastal regions of Delaware Bay, Brazil, the Mediterranean Sea, South Africa, China, Australia, Hawaii, the Bahamas, California, Florida, and Ecuador.

What is a bignose shark's habitat?

The bignose shark habitat includes areas with tropical and subtropical waters. They are often spotted at the edges of continental shelves but mostly spend their time in deep waters foraging near the seafloor. At night time, these sharks may surface to shallow waters to prey on crustaceans and schooling fishes. These sharks follow a seasonal migration pattern, where during summers they migrate towards regions with cooler water temperatures and vice versa for winters.

Who does bignose shark live with?

Bignose sharks are solitary and live alone, but they temporarily pair up during the breeding season.

How long does a bignose shark live?

This species has an average life span of 42-50 years years.

How do they reproduce?

Similar to other shark species, bignose sharks are viviparous. Both sexes reach sexual maturity when they are 7.2-7.5 ft (2.2-2.3 m) in length. The breeding season of this species depends on their geographical range. For example, in the Mediterranean Sea it occurs in August and September, whereas in Madagascar it is September and October. The gestation period lasts for about 10 months. Females give birth to several pups during a single breeding season, the average litter size is 3-11 pups.

What is their conservation status?

The IUNC Red List of Threatened Species has classified the bignose shark species as Near Threatened as their population size is struggling to recover from the pressure of widespread heavy fishing.

Bignose Shark Fun Facts

What does a bignose shark look like?

Bignose sharks are heavy-bodied and have a long, broad, and pointed snout, well-developed nasal flaps, large round eyes protected by nictitating membranes. These membranes help to keep sand or any tiny particles out of their eyes. They also have a broad and curvy mouth, five pairs of gill slits, rows of sharp triangular teeth. There are 14-16 rows of teeth on each side. The pectoral fins are moderately long with have black tips, a pair of dorsal fins, and an interdorsal ridge. An interdorsal ridge is the lifted of skin between the first dorsal fin and the second dorsal fin. The first dorsal fin is tall, sickle-shaped, and originates near the pectoral fins, whereas the second dorsal fin is wider with a short free rear tip, and is placed near the anal fin. The pectoral fins are slightly darker than the other features and the caudal fin is placed far on its body. These sharks are gray from above and white below. Younger sharks have a rounded and shorter snout but have the same coloration, and are 28–35 in (70–90 cm) in length.

Fun facts about bignose sharks for kids.
* We've been unable to source an image of a bignose shark and have used an image of a blacktip reef shark instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of bignose shark, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at [email protected]

How cute are they?

These sharks are not typically seen as cute, but they are not ugly either.

How do they communicate?

Like any other species of shark, bignose sharks are incapable of making any noise. Therefore, they use body language and the ability to feel underwater vibration to communicate with each other, detect the location of their prey, or find a potential mate.

How big is a bignose shark?

Males grow to at least 8.9 ft (2.7 m), and females up to 9.2 ft (2.8 m) in length. These sharks are nearly 35 times bigger than clownfish.

How fast can a bignose shark swim?

The speed rate of this species is unknown. Since the species is highly migratory, they probably are great swimmers. Some bignose sharks have been recorded traveling distances between 1,000-2,000 mi (1,600-3,200 km)!

How much does a bignose shark weigh?

The maximum weight of a bignose shark recorded is 370 lb (168 kg)!

What are the male and female names of the species?

These sharks do not have separate names for their male and female species. They are referred to as males and females.

What would you call a baby bignose shark?

A baby bignose shark is called a pup. The newborns measure 28–35 in (70–90 cm) in length and are born in September and October.

What do they eat?

The bignose shark feeds mainly on bottom-dwelling smaller sharks and rays, bony fishes, lizardfishes, croakers, squid, octopus, shrimp, cuttlefish, dogfishes, chimeras, and cephalopods.

Juveniles often fall prey to larger sharks like the great white shark.

Are they dangerous?

Despite their enormous size, bignose sharks do not pose a threat to humans as they rarely come into contact with people due to their preference for deep water.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these sharks are classified as a Near Threatened species and are best left to live in their natural habitat. Besides, they grow too big, are migratory, predatory, and won't survive long in a tank.

Did you know...

An alternative common name for the bignose shark is the Knopp's shark.

These sharks are often hunted and caught in Cuban waters and used to produce liver oil, shagreen, and fishmeal. In Southeast Asia, their meat is consumed in the form of a very popular dish, shark fin soup.

How many babies does a bignose shark have?

Females give birth to around 3-11 pups in one breeding season.

In what kind of waters are bignose shark found? 

Bignose sharks generally swim close to the seafloor but are occasionally found near continental shelves and upper continental slopes. Young sharks are often found wandering in shallow waters.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our largetooth saw fish facts or smelt facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free and printable bignose shark coloring pages.

Main image by John Martin Davies

Second image by Rickard Zerpe

* We've been unable to source an image of a bignose shark and have used an image of a reef hammerhead shark instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of bignose shark, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at [email protected]

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