Can You Identify These Different Types of Sharks?

Brittany Rowland

Image: Trent Burkholder Photography / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Lots of people can't venture in the water without hearing that theme song (da-dum ... da-dum ... daaa-DUM) echoing in the back of their head. Let's face it: Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" frightened us so much because it tapped into that primal fear of the unknown. Swimming in the ocean, we have no idea what's lurking just below the surface. And great white sharks certainly look the part of a ferocious man-eating beast with cold, black eyes. But films like "Jaws" may have led people to unfairly demonize and fear all sharks, when in reality most shark species are harmless or only attack humans by mistake. Even great whites don't find humans particularly tasty.

In reality, humans are a greater danger to sharks than the other way around, due to fishing, pollution of oceans and habitat loss. Sharks have been around even longer than the dinosaurs, but in modern times, many species are under threat of extinction, which would be disastrous to the oceanic ecosystem. Thus, people need to respect sharks, learn about them and try to educate others about their importance! So sink your teeth into this fin-tastic quiz to see if you can identify 40 types of sharks! 

People were scared to go in the ocean after seeing this shark on the big screen in 1975. Can you name it?

The great white shark is certainly a formidable predator, largely due to its immense size: Some can grow up to 20 feet long! The only predator they seem to fear is the orca, also known as the killer whale.

This shark is the largest living fish species. Can you identify it?

Despite their tremendous size, whale sharks are harmless to humans. As filter feeders, they eat plankton and tiny fish with their large gaping mouths. Some scientists believe they can live to be 130!

Beware: This aggressive shark can travel up rivers! What is it?

Because the bull shark can swim in both seawater and freshwater, it's been discovered as far as 700 miles up the Mississippi River. Bull sharks get their name for their bullish shape and temperament.

The stripes on the back of this shark should be a clue to its name!

The fierce tiger shark comes in second place (after the great white) for fatal shark attacks on people. Its stripes fade over time, and the tiger shark can reach a length of 16 feet.

Which type of shark regularly returns to shallow nursery grounds to mate and give birth?

Lemon sharks tend to live in communities and travel back to the same location to reproduce. These nocturnal hunters use electroreceptors to find fish and pose no substantial risk to humans.

Can you guess this shark's name based on its gaping maw?

So few megamouth sharks have been captured that scientists don't know too much about it, except that it's a filter feeder like the whale shark and basking shark. It has a bulbous head and a wide mouth.

Which tiny shark can bite a neat, round chunk out of larger prey?

Although reaching only 22 inches in length, the cookiecutter shark is not afraid to take a bite or two out of much larger animals. It gets its name from the way it extracts "plugs" of flesh from prey.

This shark has a distinctive flat head that extends to the sides. What is it called?

Hammerhead sharks are unique in that they swim together in schools in the daytime and hunt alone at night. Scientists believe the shark's hammer-like head gives it 360-degree vision.

Can you name this shark, which has a spade-shaped head?

We suppose the bonnethead's head may resemble a bonnet, although it could also be described as a shovel or a taco! This shark only grows to about three feet in length and eats plants as well as fish.

Despite its name, this shark has a spotted pattern on its back. Can you identify it?

While young zebra sharks have a stripe pattern, those stripes morph into spots as the shark ages. Zebra sharks spend their days lying still on the ocean floor but come out to hunt at night.

Don't be alarmed by its name: This spotted shark is not a threat to humans.

Named for the distinctive spots and "saddles" on its back, the leopard shark swims in schools, usually at night. Although they're commonly spotted near the coasts, they don't threaten humans.

Which shark is known for its long, scythe-like tail?

The solitary thresher shark lives in temperate and tropical oceans. It's named for its long tail, which is often as long as the shark's body. Threshers use this tail to stun prey.

Scientists believe this shark can live to be 300 to 500 years old! Can you name it?

Researchers used radiocarbon dating to determine that Greenland sharks are the longest-living vertebrates in the world. They can grow up to 24 feet long, and they live in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

No, you don't have to salute when you see this shark, which lives around Australia. What's its name?

The epaulette shark has distinctive spots behind its fins, calling to mind the epaulettes on military uniforms. These sharks primarily live in the warm waters around Australia and New Guinea.

No, Charles Darwin didn't name this shark, but good guess. What's it called?

The scientists who named this shark found it in the Galapagos Islands, hence the name. The shark can reach about 10 feet in length and likes to snack on bony fish, octopuses and squids.

Which shark comes in second place for size, after the whale shark?

Along with the whale shark and megamouth, the basking shark eats primarily plankton as a filter feeder. And while it can grow up to 26 feet long, it's a slow swimmer and not an aggressive species.

My, what sharp, needle-like teeth you have! Which eel-like shark lives at great ocean depths?

It's a good thing this shark typically stays thousands of feet underwater, because it looks simply terrifying! The frilled shark has a long, eel-like body and a stretchy mouth that lets it eat prey whole.

These sharks are quite sedentary, and despite their name won't even give you a Band-Aid when you're hurt. What are they?

Don't underestimate the nurse shark! Even though it tends to be slow and inactive, it ranks fourth in shark attacks on people. Nurse sharks are brown in color and grow up to 10 feet long.

You don't want to mess with this shark, which has six rows of teeth on its lower jaw! What is it?

As the name suggests, the bluntnose sixgill shark has a blunt snout and six gills — and can grow up to 26 feet long! This shark also has fluorescent blue-green eyes, the better to terrify its prey!

The shortfin variety of this shark is common but the longfin less so. Can you name this shark?

There are two types of mako sharks alive today: shortfin and longfin. A type of mackerel shark, the mako is blue and grey in color. The shortfin mako is the fastest shark, reaching speeds of 42 mph.

Can you name the shark that resembles a stingray and hides in the sand to catch prey? You won't find a halo on this one!

With is flat body and wide pectoral fins, the angel shark looks like a ray. The shark lies motionless in the sand until the prey is overhead; then it lunges upward and captures its meal.

Which type of shark is an apex predator and eats a wide variety of prey, including sea turtles and other sharks?

Dusky sharks have no natural predators — except for humans. Because dusky sharks have slow reproductive cycles, they're vulnerable to being overfished. They will also eat anything, including garbage.

You can actually find these sharks in some home aquariums due to their small size. What are they?

Whitespotted bamboo sharks grow to only 24 to 37 inches, so some people keep them as pets. They have an easily recognizable appearance, with a round snout, narrow body, brown stripes and white spots.

You could hold this shark in the palm of your hand! What's its name?

Growing only about seven inches, the dwarf lantern shark is the smallest known shark in the world. Most are found in the Caribbean near Colombia and Venezuela. Females have two or three pups at a time.

This shark's snout resembles a common tool used for cutting wood. What is it?

Even though this shark stays pretty deep, it's well known for its long snout edged with teeth, giving it a saw-like appearance. The shark uses this saw to disable its prey (and sometimes predators).

Females of this shark species are able to reproduce asexually! Can you name the shark?

Blacktip sharks get their name from the black coloring on the tips of their fins. They can leap out of the water to catch fish, and females return to the place of their birth to reproduce themselves.

Despite its name, this shark is no slouch when it comes to catching prey. Can you name it?

The Pacific sleeper shark is a stealthy predator because of the way it effortlessly glides through deep waters. It uses suction to draw food into its mouth and chops it up with spiky teeth.

Can you identify the small, spotted shark that lives off North America's West Coast?

The horn shark has a distinctive appearance with ridges over the eyes and spots over its brown or grey body. It is typically active at night and will leave humans alone if the favor is returned!

If you spot this shark found exclusively around Australia, you can just say g'day and not worry about an attack. What is it?

The Port Jackson shark lives in the waters around Australia and migrates south for summers and north for winters. Its distinctive markings make it look like it's wearing a harness.

This type of shark is harmless, but we doubt you'll hear it purr. Can you identify it?

Catsharks live in tropical and temperate waters around the world and may have earned their name from their cat-like eyes. Most catsharks are small and have patterns of spots or stripes.

Which shark is viviparous (has live births) and is also called the brown shark?

Although the sandbar shark somewhat resembles bull sharks, it's typically harmless to humans. It prefers to eat rays, fish and crabs and must watch out for predators like tiger sharks and great whites.

These camouflaged sharks lurk on the seabed waiting for unsuspecting prey. Do you know what they're called?

Wobbegongs live around Australia and Indonesia; their name comes from the Aboriginal word for "shaggy beard" due to the "whiskers" around the mouth. Wobbegongs rest on the seafloor and ambush fish.

If this shark looks like the stuff of nightmares, then you can guess how it got its name! What is it called?

The goblin shark looks like it auditioned for a role in "Alien." The pinkish shark has a long, pointy snout and jaws that extend to gobble prey. Lucky for us, goblin sharks are rare.

Pee-yew! Which shark has a thick layer of smelly mucus covering its skin?

The bramble shark has a cylindrical form that tapers at the head. People rarely bump into this shark because it usually stays at great depths (up to 3,000 feet), feeding on fish and other sharks.

These sharks sometimes give birth to 100 pups at a time! Can you identify it?

So named because of their blue color on top, blue sharks have large round eyes and a slender build. Blue sharks eat smaller sharks, but they too find themselves hunted by tiger sharks.

What, a shark out of water? This type of shark can, indeed, survive on land for several hours.

Young brown-banded bamboo sharks have thick brown bands, the adults tend to lose this pattern. This hardy shark makes it home in tidal pools and coral reefs, typically between Japan and Australia.

Don't try to grab this shark — it has venomous spines! Can you identify it?

The spiny dogfish has two spines near its dorsal fins that it uses defensively against predators. This aggressive shark prefers to hunt in large packs, sometimes numbering in the thousands.

Can you name this shark, sometimes called the silvertip shark?

Residing in temperate and tropical waters, the oceanic whitetip shark takes part in feeding frenzies. If your ship or plane crashed in the sea, you'd be most worried about this shark.

Even though it's related to the great white, this shark is relatively docile and harmless to humans. What is it?

The sand tiger shark is unrelated to the more vicious tiger shark. It lives in sandy shorelines around the world and has the unique ability to gulp water, which helps it float effortlessly.

The name of this shark describes its signature hunting move. Can you guess what it is?

The spinner shark attacks schools of fish by swimming up vertically and spinning on its axis, leaping out of the water at the end. Because they swallow small fish whole, they usually leave humans alone.

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