STRANGE TEXAS SHARKS

BARE BONES HUNTING by Lou Marullo
June 25, 2016
WHITETAIL KINGDOM by Dean Heffner
June 25, 2016

Strange Sharks

The Texas Gulf Coast is robust in diversity and perhaps no other area is as diverse as the number of shark species found in coastal waters of the Texas Gulf of Mexico.

Most anglers are familiar with blackcaps, bull sharks, lemons and tigers. Bluewater anglers occasionally target makos. However there are many shark species in Gulf waters, all of which have very specific regulations, with some having extremely restrictive regulations.

We will take a look at the many unusual shark species and the regulations that anglers must follow. Anglers in Texas are allowed one shark per person per day with a two-shark possession limit, but there are great differences among species.

Let us start with the sharks anglers can keep in Texas waters with a minimum length of 24 inches.

Atlantic sharpnose – body usually has several prominent white spots; second dorsal fin originates over midpoint of anal fin. 

Blacktip – similar to spinner but first dorsal fin originates over the pectoral fins and anal fin lacks black tip. 

Bonnethead – rounded, shovel-shaped head with no indentation at midline of snout; maximum size about five feet.

The following species are allowable with a minimum 64-inch total length.

Bull – stocky body; no interdorsal ridge; large triangular sloping dorsal fin; bluntly rounded snout. 

Finetooth – fins unmarked; slender smooth teeth; color bluish-grey above and white below. 

Spinner – similar to blacktip, but first dorsal fin originates behind the pectoral fins and anal fin has black tip. 

Lemon – first and second triangular dorsal fins about equal in size. 

Blacknose – grey to black blotch on tip of snout. 

Thresher – upper lobe of caudal fin extremely long and about half of total body length; similar to bigeye thresher but has no grooves on top of head and white abdominal coloring extends above pectoral fins. 

Tiger – distinctive vertical blotches or stripes. 

Blue – slender body of metallic blue color. 

Shortfin mako – similar to longfin mako but underside of snout and mouth are white; similar to blue shark but has caudal keel. 

Nurse – brown color; first dorsal fin over pelvic fins; very small eyes; barbels on each side of mouth; no distinct lower lobe of caudal fin. 

Oceanic whitetip – broadly rounded white tipped first dorsal fin. 

*Species with 99 inch minimum length

Hammerheads (Smooth, Scalloped, Great) – head hammer-shaped; includes scalloped, great, smooth and smalleye hammerheads.

These species may not be retained and must be released immediately WITHOUT REMOVING THEM FROM THE WATER.

Atlantic angel – flat skate-like body; large spiracles behind eyes; two small dorsal fins located near the tail. 

Basking – has enormous gill slits nearly encircling head; maximum size about 32 feet; no similar species; rare in Texas waters. 

Bigeye sand tiger – similar to sand tiger; similar to lemon shark but has first dorsal fin far back on body closer to pelvic fins than pectoral fins; similar to nurse shark but has a distinct lower lobe of caudal fin; rare in Texas waters. 

Bigeye sixgill – has six gill slits; similar only to sixgill; rare in Texas waters. 

Bigeye thresher – upper lobe of caudal fin extremely long and about half of total body length; similar to thresher but has large eyes directed upward, deep grooves on top of the head, and white abdominal coloring that does not extend above pectoral fins; rare in Texas waters. 

Bignose – similar to silky and dusky but has first dorsal fin originating over pectoral fin insertion; similar to sandbar but has longer snout; similar to blacktip and bull but has interdorsal ridge; rare in Texas waters. 

Caribbean reef – similar to blacktip but has interdorsal ridge; similar to sandbar but has first dorsal fin originating behind the pectoral fins; similar to dusky, silky and Galapagos but has a much shorter free rear tip of the second dorsal fin. 

Caribbean sharpnose – similar to Atlantic sharpnose but is rare in Texas waters.

Dusky –similar to bull, blacktip and spinner but has interdorsal ridge; similar to sandbar but has sloping first dorsal fin originating over or slightly before free tips of pectoral fins; similar to silky but length of second dorsal fin free tip rarely more than twice the fin height. 

Galapagos – similar to grey reef and dusky but is rare in Texas waters. 

Longfin mako – similar to shortfin mako but has dusky or bluish-black mouth area and long broad tipped pectoral fins; similar to blue shark but has caudal keel; rare in Texas waters. 

Narrowtooth – similar to blacktip and spinner but has distinctive narrow triangular upper teeth and a slight arch to the back above the gill slits. 

Night – similar to silky and dusky but has large green eyes; similar to spinner and blacktip but has small dorsal fin and interdorsal ridge; rare in Texas waters. 

Sandbar – similar to dusky but has large first dorsal fin originating over or slightly before pectoral insertion; similar to bull, blacktip and spinner but has interdorsal ridge. 

Sand tiger – similar to bigeye sand tiger; similar to lemon shark but has first dorsal fin far back on body closer to pelvic fins than pectoral fins; similar to nurse shark but has a distinct lower lobe of caudal fin.

Sandbar sharks look quite a bit like numerous other shark species and are protected from harvest.

 Sevengill – has seven gill slits; no similar species.

Silky – similar to bull, blacktip and spinner but has interdorsal ridge; similar to sandbar but has dorsal fin originating behind pectoral fins; similar to dusky, but length of second dorsal fin free tip usually more than twice the fin height. 

Sixgill – has six gill slits; similar only to bigeye sixgill.

Smalltail – has deeply notched anal fin and short gill openings; no similar species. 

Whale – unique pattern of light spots and stripes; maximum size about 40 feet; no similar species 

White – similar to mako sharks but has large triangular serrated teeth. 

  

 

 

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