Bull Sharks in the Everglades

bull sharks

A bull shark in the water.

Alligators and crocodiles are not the only apex predators that call the Florida Everglades home, though they are undoubtedly the most well known. Many people might actually be very surprised to learn that sharks also live in the Everglades, especially because it’s such a commonly understood fact that sharks need saltwater and are therefore restricted to the world’s oceans.

This fact, however, is a myth, as there are a few species of sharks that are able to adapt to and live in freshwater. Most notably, bull sharks, which have been found in rivers as far north as Illinois. Because many of the wetlands and swamps of the Everglades are connected to the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean, it should come as no surprise that bull sharks have been known to find their ways there.

Bull sharks and other freshwater sharks are able to easily adapt to saltwater or freshwater environments because they possess an ability called osmoregulation. While all sharks have this ability, which is simply the ability to maintain a certain concentration of water within the body, bull sharks are different in that they can gradually adjust their kidneys to suit different levels of salinity depending on what kind of water they are in.

Next time you’re out on an Everglades airboat ride, keep your eye out for some fins in the water as well as the usual scales. Because bull sharks are especially prevalent during birthing season, when the secluded rivers of the Everglades provide the perfect protection for young pups, now is the perfect time to spot creatures of all kinds on an Everglades tour.