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The Bullhead Shark

Bull shark, bullhead shark, Zambezi shark Carcharhinus leucas

The grey bullhead shark is a truly unique representative of its family, which is guilty for more than a half of all the human deaths caused by the predator sharks. It is an extraordinarily aggressive species with all its representatives being completely omnivorous, having powerful teeth, similar by their shape with the teeth of the tiger sharks, and dwelling in the coastal areas not far from densely populated by people districts.

In view of all the above mentioned attributes the grey bullhead shark is included to the list of three the most dangerous men-eater sharks.

The official statistics doesnt display the real facts as the number of the shark attack is in large excess over what is mentioned in the papers. It can be explained by the fact that the sharks inhabit the coastal areas of the third world countries: India, Africa and other regions where nobody makes these attacks known to public and thus dont register them either. Besides that, it is more difficult to distinguish the sharks of this species from others: for instance, tiger shark of white shark. Thats why their attack may be registered as an attack of the sharks of the unidentified species.

The bullhead shark feels comfortable even in the fresh water basins the fact that only increases its danger for humans. It is possible due to sharks capability of their osmoregulation managing: they adapt painlessly to water softening using their gills and the rectal gland. The bullhead shark dwells the rivers of the South and North America, Australia, USA, Iran, India and many others. There were registered some cases of its inhabitation in the freshwater lakes of the big cities in the states of Illinois, New Jersey, central part of New York and even 4,000 kilometers upstream the Amazon river. And one of the bullhead shark species archarhinus nicaraguensis, Gill & Bransford is a resident in the Nicaragua Lake.

By the way, Nicaragua is the largest lake in the Central America region. It is connected with the Caribbean Sea by the San Juan River, which is 200 kilometers long. The sharks, inhabiting it, are totally unique. This is the only species which is able to live in fresh water for a long time. All the same the majority of the scientists believe that the sharks from the Nicaragua Lake are just a variety of the bullhead sharks, rather than the new species. The Nicaragua Lake dwellers sometimes attain impressive sizes of 2,5 to 3,5 at the average.

The habitats the bullhead sharks

Very often the grey bullhead shark can be met near the Panama Canal, the waters of which appear as a complex mixture of numerous lakes with the waters of the two oceans. It may also often be met in the Lake Izabal in Guatemala, and in the Atchafalaya River, which is located 250 kilometers away from the sea in Louisiana. According to eyewitnesses, it was seen in the water channels of central and south Florida too, but these cases are not proven and are not registered by the experts.

On the other hand, these sharks are much respected all over the Indo-Chinese countries, including South China and India. The bullhead sharks dwelling the entry of the Ganges River, permanently feed on human meat. According to the local customs, the corpses of those belonging to the top castes are to be let down to the waters of the Ganges River, which is considered sacred, straightly to the bloodthirsty predators.

Quite often the reports about sharks attacks have relation to Australia. The aggressive and amazingly greedy sharks occasionally attack divers and swim far inward the continent along the entry of the river. Recently there was registered a shark attack on the race horse in the city of Queensland, Australia. These sharks can easily handle not only the humans, but even the mammals of significantly bigger size, due to their speed, power and their original trick with a headbutt and a successive bite.

The bullhead sharks often appear as the characters of the ancient legends. Theyre even worshipped in some South African tribes.

The scientists believe that the bullhead shark male is the most aggressive creature on our planet. Its organism produces great amounts of a testosterone a male hormone, which is in charge for the developing of such a behavior pattern. This theory has been proven in practice: the bullhead sharks, being prone to sudden violent outbursts, may attack any moving object passing by even an outboard engine propeller.

The predators nose is oblate and blunt-shaped; the teeth are sharp, with their edges slightly notched. The bullhead shark pulps are both with teeth. In case if one of the teeth comes out, another one replaces it. But only the back row of teeth is an ever-growing one, providing the shark an additional weapon.

The representatives of this species are very fast and strong, seeing that it is almost impossible to escape from them in case of attack. They tear their prey to pieces, even of it fights back. Moreover, their behavior is totally unpredictable: they can both attack immediately, or wait for a long time cruising around before acting. The attack also may be either serious, or just a single bite for sake of intelligence. The attack is inevitable in case if the stranger crossed the borders of the sharks territory: the predator eagerly defends its space and is ready to kill every intruder.

The shark attack is impossible to avoid while a human stays in the water. But there are certain rules which will help to reduce the probability of the mishap.

First of all it is necessary to stay away from the muddy waters next to those places where a river enters the ocean. Under the conditions of poor visibility the bullhead shark attacks any object it meets. One should put bathing on hold after the heavy showers: water flows may wash the organic substances out to the sea, which would attract the sharks. There were registered the instances when bullhead sharks attacked the people wading across the river. One should be very careful in similar cases.

One shouldnt delude themselves into thinking that a four-meter-long shark is quite awkward: it can kill an absent bather or a pet, approached too close to the water in a few seconds. Chasing its prey the shark can turn on amazing speed, besides it is very persistent and hardy.

Therefore, the representatives of the grey bullhead shark species can be met not only in the waters of all the oceans, but even in many fresh waters too.

So what are the peculiarities of this unique predator?

Its a rather large fish with a massive spindle-shaped body. The snout of this shark is flat, the head is big and the eyes have nictitating membranes. The fore fin is considerably bigger in size than the rear one. There is a small notch on the upper blade of the caudal fin. The lower teeth are somewhat narrower than the upper ones; all teeth are triangular and serrated. The bull shark stands out from the other representatives of its family owing to the distinctive head shape and flat snout, from which the shark has gotten its name. The females are usually 4.5 meters long, while the males are a bit smaller 2.5 meters in length. The weight record-holder among the already caught sharks is considered to be the shark weighing 316.5 kg.

The sharks back is grey with the color gradually getting lighter towards the belly. There are neither spots nor stripes on the body the coloration is rather subtle. However, it is influenced by light intensity the bull shark is almost invisible in the shallow water being particularly dangerous in the muddy water.

As any other shark, the bulk shark is viviparous. The mother turns into some sort of a hatching unit during the pregnancy period: she carries all the eggs inside. Babies are usually born in summer from May to August. In most cases it is up to 12 hatchlings, which are immediately left to their own devices. Young sharks reach puberty at the age of 3-4 years hitherto keeping to shallow waters, where they hide from their enemies and feeding on easy prey. The average lifespan of the bull shark is 27-28 years.

The shark received its peculiar name owing to its unpredictable and furious temper as well as being able to dwell in the fresh water. Herders turned their cattle to the watering points and as soon as an animal walked into the water the sharks attacked it and lugged it away.

The first appearance of a bull shark can be deceptive it seems rather slow and clumsy, though when chasing prey it attains rattling good speed and exceptional maneuverability. Sometimes it is called the sea scavenger, just as the tiger shark. It is usually moving around its territory in a slow and even idle manner in search of the moving objects, which might become its prey. As soon as the target is chosen, the shark gains power and speed, which are to be envied.

The grey bull shark has the reputation of a particularly cruel predator it possesses huge stamina as well as the low pain limit. There are known cases, when beached sharks would eat their own bowels they have the exceedingly huge will to live that is strongly marked in behavior of every representative of this species.

The adult sharks usually have absolutely no persnickety about food they are omnivorous being able to eat everything from fish and crabs to any kind of waste. They can even feed on putrescence, which is the most horrible thing about them, and even human flesh. However, the routine food of this shark species includes large invertebrates, young cartilaginous and bony fish, and dolphins of various sizes.

The most common victims of the bull shark among humans are the lonely swimmers, who prefer swimming early in the morning or, vice versa, late at night. The sharks usually attack at shallow depths only 0.5-1 meters.

The most notorious shark attack on humans was the one that happened in the American state of New Jersey located near the New York City in 1916. Back then four people died and one got most serious injuries in just a couple of days. The supposed slaughterer was caught later on with a net. The bloodthirsty man-eater was exhibited before the public. It appeared to be not even an adult specimen, but a mere youngling of the great white shark, which was 2 meters long. Although it is unclear whether this one was the killer-shark, while many specialists are prone to argue that such attacks were only possibly performed by a grey bull shark. The fact, which confirms their statement, is that the water in the river, where the attack took place, was fresh.

The horrible tragedy provided the basis for the famous movie Jaws the first one in its genre, which concentrated upon the mortal danger of sharks. However, it was the great white shark and not the bull shark, which became the star of this movie.

As any other shark, the bull shark is at the top of the food pyramid, thus having almost no serious enemies that are able to do much harm to it. The few exceptions are the killer whales and peers, which are bigger in size. The greatest threat to this shark species is posed by humans and their activities, besides not only the one connected with catching this fish for food (its fins and meat are considered to be a delicacy), but also killing the sharks for the sake of it, realizing the potential threat that it poses to humans. In places, which are actively used by humans for carrying out the water and coastal activities, the sharks are constantly caught and killed. However, it helps to remember of how important every element of flora and fauna is for the functioning of the planet the uncontrolled extermination of any species, even the most dangerous ones will inevitably lead to negative consequences. The primary task is looking for ways of peaceful coexistence between humans and sharks, which would be safe for both, without declaring sharks the number-one enemies of mankind and exterminating their population, the recovery of which is very and very slow.

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