The bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas, also known as Zambezi shark or unofficially known as Zambi in Africa and Nicaragua shark in Nicaragua, is a shark common worldwide in warm, shallow waters along coasts and in rivers.
The bull shark is well known for its unpredictable, often aggressive behavior.
Unlike most sharks, bull sharks tolerate fresh water and can travel far up rivers.
They have even been known to travel as far up as Indiana in the Ohio River and Illinois in the Mississippi River, although there have been few recorded attacks.
As a result, they are probably responsible for the majority of near-shore shark attacks, including many attacks attributed to other species. However, bull sharks are not true freshwater sharks (unlike the river sharks of the genus Glyphis).
The name, “bull shark”, comes from the shark’s stocky shape, broad, flat snout and aggressive unpredictable behavior.
In India, the bull shark may be confused with the “Sundarbans” or “Ganges shark”. In Africa it is also commonly called the “Zambezi River shark” or just “Zambi”.
Its wide range and diverse habitats result in many other local names, including “Ganges River Shark”, “Fitzroy Creek Whaler”, “van Rooyen’s Shark”, “Lake Nicaragua Shark”, “river shark”, “freshwater whaler”, “estuary whaler”, “Swan River Whaler”, “cub shark”, and “shovelnose shark
The bull shark lives all over the world in many different areas and travels long distances.
It is common in coastal areas of warm oceans, in rivers and lakes, and occasionally salt and freshwater streams if they are deep enough.
It is found to a depth of 150 metres (490 ft) but does not usually swim deeper than 30 metres (98 ft).
In the Atlantic it is found from Massachusetts to southern Brazil and from Morocco to Angola. In the Indian Ocean it is found from South Africa to Kenya, India, and Vietnam to Australia.
There are more than 500 bull sharks in the Brisbane River; one was reportedly seen swimming the flooded streets of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia during the Queensland floods of late 2010/early 2011.