Bull Shark Carcharhinus leucas (Valenciennes, 1839) in Captivity

Thanks for information and photos to Bernadine Everett, Gary Violetta, and Filipe Pereira.

Photograph Aquarium and Details TL (m)
M (kg)
Time in captivity
Cle_images/CleAquariumOfThePacific.jpg Aquarium of the Pacifc, Long Beach CA, USA
In 2006, the aquarium brought a bull shark on display inits Shark Lagoon exhibit. The female specimen was 1.6 m TL and weighed approximately 65 pounds (29.48 kg). At the time it was the only bull shark in captivity on the Western Coast. Not much information can be found on the web about this specimen, but it's no longer on display.
1.6 ?
  Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, Bahamas
It is known that this resort in Nassau, which is the largest open air marine habitat, has tried to display bull sharks in the Mayan Temple lagoon. There is a video on YouTube that shows apparent bull shark that are taken out of the exhibit by staff members. However, according to the Atlantis website there are no bull sharks on display currently.
Okinawa Aquarium, Japan
The "Sea of Dangerous Sharks" is a 700 m3 shark-filled exhibit, in which several specimens of bull sharks are displayed to the public, together with a tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) - I've sent you a picture of this animal a couple of days ago) and other predatory sharks. The sizes of the specimens are ranged between 1,8 meters TL to 2,5 meters TL, and both males and females are kept in the tank.
1.8 -2.5  
Cle_images/CleOklahomaAquarium.jpg Oklahoma Aquarium, USA
The Oklahoma Aquarium claims to have the World's largest captive bull sharks. This aquarium presents on its Shark Tank several specimens of this species ranging in size from 1.5 to almost 3 m TL. The exhibit, which has an acrylic tunel and an acrylic dome for visitors, is also inhabited by lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris), nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma fasciatum), sandbar sharks (Carcharhinus plumbeus) and sandtiger sharks (Carcharias taurus), among other fish species.
Cle_images/bullsharks-sharkexpovenice.jpg Palazzo del Turismo in Venice, Italy
has a Shark Expo from May 23, 2009 until September 30, 2009. This exhibition presents several tanks holding 25 different species of living sharks, including two bull sharks (the ones on the picture attached, and the only specimens on display in Europe), hammerhead sharks, sand tiger sharks, zebra sharks and others.
Cle_images/CleSeaWorldAustralia.jpg Sea World Australia
Several specimens are kept in two exhibits at this amusement park, apparently the most successful bull shark collection in any aquarium. Several specimens, ranging from juveniles to full-grown adults, are displayed in the Shark Bay exhibit, an estuarine environment in which the bull sharks live alongside lemon sharks, dusky sharks, gray reef sharks, eagle rays, stingrays, and a wide array of reef-associated teleosts. The Shark Attack exhibit exhibits juvenile specimens where the public is educated about the reasons behind bull shark attacks in global tropical waters.
Zambezi.jpg Sea World Durban (now uShaka Marine World) South Africa
Ten specimens between 1964-2000 in 13.8 x 9.1 x 3.2 m exhibit (Wintner et al. 2002). Photo is of male (number 10 in the paper) taken on May 10, 2002. It arrived in November 1980 from Richards Bay which is north along the coast of Durban.

Addition by Paul Lotter, Assistant Curator uShaka Marine World, Durban South Africa. "The longest captive sharks we have had, were two Bull sharks that were with us for 25 years. The pair were caught in 1980 and were released in 2005. The reason for their release, was due to the uncertainty of safely adding fellow tank mates considering to two sharks' size, and prior history."
Paul Lotter Assistant Curator uShaka Marine World Durban South Africa

(2.17 PCL) in Nov 2000

2.2-25 y

Sea World Florida, USA
Five neonate bull sharks (1 male, 4 females, TL = 61-68 cm) were collected in August 1985 from the Indian River Lagoon . A growth and feeding study was carried out from June 1988 - December 1992 (Schmid and Murru 1994). One bull shark was collected in 1982 and was euthanized in Feb 2002 for medical reasons.

152 (C8540)
17-20 y
  Compagno (1984): "The bull shark is hardy and lives readily in captivity, and has been kept in aquaria for over 15 years."   >15 y

Created April 2002, revised September 2009. Back to previous page
Please send comments or corrections to henry@elasmollet.org