Bull sharks bite with the greatest force among sharks, pound-for-pound, greater even than great whites or hammerheads, biologists report.
“It’s all about the width of the jaws, and bull sharks have very wide heads,” says marine biologist Philip Motta of the University of South Florida in Tampa. “We’ve seen sea turtles bitten in half, and that takes quite a lot of force.”
In a study in the current Zoology journal led by USF’s Maria Habegger, Motta and his colleagues measured bite forces from 13 shark species. (“It’s not easy,” he says.) In a direct comparison, they report that a 9-foot-long bull shark has a bite force of 478 pounds, while an 8-foot-long great white has a bite with 360 pounds of force.
“An 18-foot-long great white will still have a more powerful bite than an 11-foot bull shark, just by virtue of its size,” Motta says. “But pound-for-pound, a bull shark of the same size would have a stronger bite.”