Thousands upon thousands of people travel from all around the world for the opportunity to go for a swim in the crystal clear, turquoise waters that make up the Mediterranean Sea.
From the historic sandy shores of Italy to the islands of Greece, there’s nothing quite like a beach vacation along the Mediterranean – but it’s important to understand the marine life that calls this area home.
There are nearly fifty types of sharks that live in the Mediterranean because of its tropical climate and abundance of hunting opportunities.
While many of these sharks stay deep within the sea and are only every spotted on occasion by divers, other types of sharks roam the shallow water along the coastline for an easy meal.
It is important to note that even though there are a handful of sharks that pose a possible threat to humans, most sharks are relatively harmless – and we pose a bigger risk to them than the other way around.
With that being said, the thought of sharks swimming in the same waters as you shouldn’t stop you from planning a trip to the Mediterranean. But if you’re interested to know which sharks are the most common in the area, check out this list of the 16 most common sharks in the Mediterranean Sea.
Table of Contents
1. Angel Shark
Nicknamed the “sand devil”, angel sharks are often mistaken for stingrays because of their unique build and their ability to spend their days along the ocean’s floor.
There are over twenty different kinds of angel sharks, many of which can be found in the Mediterranian Sea – but their key features remain the same.
Every angel shark has a flat body with wide-stretching fins and can grow to an average of 5 feet with a weight of about 75 pounds.
They are considered to be bottom-feeders and spend their days in shallow waters along the coastline, making them one of the most common sharks to spot during your time in the Mediterranean.
However, because of this lifestyle, angel sharks have adapted to use a form of camouflage to protect themselves and capture prey. So while they are more likely to be nearby, the chances of actually noticing one aren’t as great as you would think.
Angel sharks bury themselves in sand or mud in areas where fish are in abundance and use the eyes on top of their head to watch for prey.
While the chances of being attacked by an angel shark are slim to none, it is important to note that they do have sharp teeth – and bites to scuba divers have been reported when the angel shark is provoked.
While the angel shark is considered to be one of the most common sharks in the Mediterranean, it is also one of the sharks facing the greatest risk of extinction. In fact, the Angel Shark Conservation Network has created a regional plan in hopes of protecting the few angel sharks that remain in the Mediterranean Sea.
2. Bignose Shark
Located far within the depths of the Mediterranean Sea, there is a very slim chance that you’ll spot a Bignose Shark – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
In reality, records show that there is an abundance of the Bignose Shark within the Mediterranean, but they’re considered to be harmless to beachgoers because of how far out they like to swim.
You won’t find a Bignose Shark anywhere near the coastline, so there’s no need to worry – although it would be pretty intimidating to have a run-in with this 10-foot, 400-pound creature.
The Bignose Shark is slim, lengthy, and has a sharply pointed nose that gives the shark its name.
These sharks are known for swimming over a thousand feet under the water, so there aren’t many recorded photos of the Bignose, but younger sharks tend to swim slightly closer to the surface. Therefore, it’s believed that there could be even larger Bignose Sharks than what scientists have recorded farther down into the Mediterranean Sea.
3. Blue Shark
Another shark known for its deep-sea swimming, the Blue Shark is easily one of the most common sharks in the Mediterranean Sea – but sightings are extremely rare.
Considering how frequently the Blue Shark is targeted by fishermen, it still surprisingly maintains one of the largest populations in all of the sharks within the Mediterranean.
Part of the reason they are such a large population of Blue Sharks is because of their continuous mating – with one pregnancy creating up to one hundred pups.
The Blue Shark gets its name from its vibrant blue colors, varying in shades, across its backside, and along its sides – and they’re known to a length of thirteen feet and weigh up to 500 pounds. Because of their torpedo-like shape, the Blue Sharks are known for being impressive swimmers and can hear the heartbeat of their prey from miles away.
It may be scary to think that these giant sharks travel in packs, but just know that they aren’t normally aggressive towards humans and will never be found in shallow water.
The Blue Sharks thrive off deep, cold waters, so the only chance of sighting would be during a deep-sea scuba session – and even then, the only way a Blue Shark would attack is if it is provoked.
4. Great White Shark
Known as one of the ocean’s deadliest creatures, most people’s greatest fears involve having a run-in with a Great White Shark – and they just so happen to call the Mediterranian Sea home.
To be fair, while you definitely don’t want to be anywhere near a Great White, they have very little interest in humans and average about 5-10 attacks a year – many of which result in one nasty bite before swimming away, which leads scientists to believe that they bite more so out of curiosity than an urge to eat.
Regardless, getting bit by a Great White with its 300 sharp teeth lined across seven rows is not something you ever want to experience.
Considering the fact that they can grow as large as twenty feet long, they’re known for exploring shallow waters to catch some of their favorite prey like seals and sea lions – so if you are feeling nervous about swimming in waters where these large creatures live, try to steer clear of places where other sea mammals are active.
An interesting fact about the Great White is that they lack maternal instinct after giving birth – and will even attempt to eat their pups if given the opportunity. And yes, they really do jump out of the water like the way they are portrayed in pictures and movies. It is actually the tactic they use to surprise prey swimming above them!
While the Great White Shark stands tall at the top of the food chain, they have still been placed on IUCN’s Red List of vulnerable species due to overfishing.
The chances of you spotting a Nursehound during your beach vacation along the Mediterranean are pretty high – and the good news is that they’re completely harmless.
The Nursehound spends its days amongst the shallow water, so it’s common to spot them along the coastline, especially in areas with coral reefs.
On average, the Nursehound is about 4 feet long with females being slightly larger than the males. You can easily distinguish them by their stocky shape and spotted backs that make them look like the sea’s version of dalmatians.
While many sharks require constant movement to breathe, the Nursehound uses a breathing method known as buccal pumping that allows them to stay still for as long as they’d like. This is why Nursehounds spend much of their day relaxing on the seafloor and are even known to “walk” along the seafloor using their pectoral fins.
Keep in mind that even though these sharks are considered to be harmless, they will still attack when provoked like any other animal – and while the Nursehound doesn’t have large teeth, it has an extremely strong mouth used to crush open clams – so its bite would definitely still hurt.
6. Blacktip Shark
Known for living amongst coral reefs, Blacktip Shark sightings have become more and more common as scuba divers explore the reefs of the Mediterranean.
Since they spend much of their time in shallow water, swimmers and spectators can easily spot them thanks to their dorsal fin sticking out of the water.
While they can grow up to about 7 feet in length, their average weight is around thirty pounds – making them extremely slender. You’ll know you’ve spotted a Blacktip Shark because of the specific characteristic that gives it its name: its black-tipped fins.
The Blacktip Shark is also very shy, so while you may spot it in the distance, the chances of getting up close during a scuba diving session are pretty slim. This also means that the Blacktip Shark is relatively harmless, as it would rather swim away from you than attack.
Because they live in such shallow waters with little to no signs of aggressive behavior, they have become an unfortunate target for fishermen. In fact, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has officially listed them as one of the ocean’s near-threatened species.
7. Great Hammerhead Shark
Known as the largest of the nine hammerhead species, the Great Hammerhead Shark is a force to be reckoned with…for other marine life, that is.
While the Great Hammerhead has been given a bad rap, no one has ever been killed by one, and attacks on humans are extremely rare. However, when it comes to attacking marine life, all types of creatures are fair game. They’ll even go after other hammerhead sharks when they are hungry.
There have also been sightings of hammerhead sharks eating a variety of different venomous creatures – which leads scientists to believe that they are immune to venom.
These unique creatures get their name thanks to years of evolution that have ultimately led to their eyes being on the sides of their head. This gives them an extreme advantage when it comes to hunting for food because they have a 360 view of everything around them.
Even though the hammerhead prefers the cooler waters deep below the surface, it’s not uncommon to spot them exploring shallow waters when they’re looking for food.
An interesting fact about the Great Hammerhead Shark is that a female can give birth to up to 50 pups at one time! However, this adds to the sad fact that the species is at risk for endangerment due to overfishing.
8. Sand Tiger Shark
Anyone who has seen a Sand Tiger Shark, whether it be in an aquarium or in open waters like the Mediterranean Sea, knows how ferocious they look – but they’re actually pretty docile creatures.
They may have layers of razor-sharp teeth that jut out in what appears to be an unorganized fashion, but they only ever attack if provoked. However, it doesn’t make them any less intimidating, as their teeth poke out even when their mouth is closed.
In fact, this impressive feature is one of the main reasons why they are the most common sharks on display in aquariums.
While they do well in an aquarium setting, their favorite place to swim is along the seafloor in shallow areas like coral reefs. You will see them come up to the surface from time to time as they are one of the few sharks that create their own buoyancy by gathering air to hold in their mouth.
This shallow water living is how the Sand Tiger Shark got its name since it adapted into a light brown color to camouflage in the sand and surprise its prey.
The Sand Tiger Shark is considered high risk for endangerment because of its extremely low reproductive rate and continued overfishing.
9. Bull Shark
When people are asked what shark is the big bad of the sea, the answer is almost always the Great White – but the Bull Shark offers up some fierce competition.
In actuality, the Bull Shark has a stronger bite than most fish, including that of the infamous Great White Shark.
While the Great White is portrayed as the predator in Jaws, it was actually a series of attacks by a Bull Shark in New Jersey that inspired the movie – but don’t let this stop you from going for a swim in the Mediterranean’s crystal clear waters.
The chance of getting attacked by a Bull Shark is one in 11 million, and humans are ultimately a greater threat to them than the other way around. While there is no concrete evidence, scientists have done a series of experiments on Bull Sharks which has led them to believe that they can distinguish different colors and have a strong dislike for bright colors.
So, if you’re feeling nervous about swimming in waters where Bull Sharks are present, wear a dark-colored bathing suit instead of a bright one.
With that being said, there are quite a few distinctive features that separate Bull Sharks from the other common sharks lingering in the Mediterranean. Bull sharks can live in both saltwater and freshwater environments with sightings in rivers over 2,000 miles away from the nearest ocean.
At the end of the day, the Bull Shark is definitely a shark you don’t want to run into – and while they are common in the Mediterranean, they are rarely ever in areas where beachgoers swim.
10. Silky Shark
Located deep within the Mediterranian Sea, the Silky Shark is not a creature that will ever be spotted by swimmers, but it can be a cause for concern for those looking to go diving in the area.
Attacks by Silky Sharks are extremely rare and this shark is hard to spot for the simple fact that they swim at least 50 feet below the surface. However, coral reefs are their hunting ground – which creates a risk for divers.
The Silky Shark has a pointed nose that aids it in a speedy attack where it dives down at its prey, and it isn’t shy – so divers are advised to keep a safe distance if they spot one.
To take things up a notch, the Silky Shark almost always travels in a pack – so an encounter with one shark can lead to an encounter with many others as well.
Nicknamed the Mackerel Shark, the Porbeagle is a common sighting along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea because it is drawn to the Mackerel that swims around in shallow waters.
Aside from their favorite snack, the Porbeagle enjoys eating other marine life, like squid, and are often spotted stealing an easy dinner from the nets of longlining fishermen.
The Porbeagle is distinguished by its cone-shaped snout, white underbelly, wide eyes, and dog-like hunting style. It is actually believed that the Porbeagle got its name for the similarities it has to a dog based on the way it carries itself.
For example, the Porbeagles usually travel in a pack – and there have been multiple sightings of the Porbeagles chasing each other around in a playful manner and playing with random, discovered objects.
Unfortunately, the Porbeagle is becoming far less common around the globe because of its lengthy reproduction process (the Porbeagle isn’t even able to start reproducing until it is eighteen years old!) paired with the continued growth of hunting these creatures for sport.
The Porbeagle has officially been listed as an endangered species and plans are underway in hopes to increase their population which involves the banning of hunting in various countries.
12. Longfin Mako
Not officially getting its own name until 1966, the Longfin Mako is one of two species of Mako in the world – and is considered to be one of the largest Lamnidae sharks to date.
With a whopping maximum length of about 20 feet, a run-in with a Longfin Mako can definitely be intimidating – but you’ll be happy to know that no attacks have ever been reported.
This isn’t to say that you should try to interact with a Longfin Mako if spotted, because, like all sharks, it is very unpredictable and prone to aggressive behavior when provoked.
They’re extremely intelligent creatures with the largest brain-to-body ratio of all sharks ever recorded and are said to be able to easily determine if a human is a threat to them. Researchers have even been able to hand feed and touch the Longfin Mako, which makes them unlike any other shark in the world.
Although they like to swim in deep waters, they often migrate to coastlines and shallow areas around islands because of their love for warm water.
While the Longfin Mako will eat just about anything it can get its hands on, its absolute favorite meal is swordfish – even if though it’s one of the most difficult fish to hunt. In fact, researchers believe that the main reason that the Longfin Mako enjoys Swordfish so much is that they enjoy the challenge of the hunt.
13. Kitefin Shark
Although the Kitefin lives in abundance throughout the Mediterranian Sea, it won’t be spotted by the average person since it lives so far below the surface. On average, the closest the Kitefin Shark will travel to the surface is 650 feet – so you never have to worry about running into one of these creatures at the beach.
Even if you did come face to face with the Kitefin Shark, you wouldn’t be in much danger, as they are very small in overall size compared to other sharks.
Most Kitefin Sharks grow to be about 5 feet long – which is shorter than the average person – and can weigh as little as 18 pounds when fully mature.
One feature that helps researchers easily distinguish the Kitefin Shark is its thick, white lips which can make them look pretty amusing.
14. Gulper Shark
Speaking of deep-sea sharks, the Gulper Shark falls into the same category – and because of this, it’s considered relatively harmless to humans.
The Gulper Shark can be found about 700 feet down within the Mediterranian Sea, but much of their lifestyle remains unknown due to this depth.
Based on what researchers have been able to gather, the average Gulper Shark can grow to an average of five feet – and their multiple rows of teeth can stretch out to about one foot.
15. Thresher Shark
Falsely named after a fox, the Thresher Shark has been a topic for discussion since the time of Aristotle. Threshers have some features that make the name fitting.
The Thresher Shark has a long upper caudal fin that gives the appearance of a tail. Interestingly enough, the Thresher Shark’s upper caudal fin can take up about half the size of its full length – and the average length of this tail is around 10 feet long.
The Thresher Shark uses its tail to whip fish around and stun them for an easy way to capture their meal, but they pose absolutely no threat to humans.
The only attack ever reported throughout history was caused by a human yanking on its long upper caudal fin, but aside from this, the Thresher Shark is usually pretty docile.
This is surprising considering how skilled they are at hunting and their close relation to the universally feared Great White Shark.
Fully grown Thresher Sharks prefer to live out their days at least 2,000 feet below the surface, so the sighting of an adult Thresher Shark near the coast is rare unless it is mating season.
Young Thresher Sharks thrive in the shallow water where it’s warm, so the chances of spotting an adolescent Thresher Shark are much greater.
Ranking as one of the least frightening sharks in the world, the Catshark is absolutely harmless – and many people hope to see one while going for a swim in the Mediterranian Sea.
For starters, the Catshark grows to an average of 3 feet long with a few cases of adults reaching a length of 5 feet at maximum.
The Catshark gets its name based on its appearance, with cat-like eyes located on the sides of its head and varying patterns that resemble the stripes or spots on your feline friend.
There are so many variations of Catshark, and many of these species can be found lingering around shallow waters and scavenging on the seafloor for food like dead fish.
They do have teeth, but their small size and preferred diet make them harmless to humans. Plus, there has never been a recorded attack on humans regardless of the abundance of encounters along the coast of the Mediterranian Sea.