PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Happy Shark Week!
The waters off the Oregon Coast are home to at least 17 species of sharks. While they often get a bad rep (thanks, Jaws), most of Oregon’s sharks are pretty harmless. Still don’t believe it? According to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, there is no record of a fatal shark attack in Oregon since 1975.
1. Great white shark
While not the largest on the list, they’re certainly the most powerful and dangerous. They can grow up to 20 feet and weigh almost 4,000 pounds.
Of the 28 recorded unprovoked shark attacks in Oregon, 27 have involved great white sharks. The most recent was in 2016 at Indian Beach when a surfer suffered a leg injury after a shark bit him.
2. Basking shark
This shark can grow up to 40 feet long — making it the largest shark found in Oregon waters. While it has an enormous gaping mouth and an uncanny resemblance to white sharks, it’s a harmless fish. They’re all “bask” and no bite. Although it has more teeth than any other species of shark on Earth, its diet mainly consists of plankton.
3. Pacific blue shark
Named for their bright blue coloration, this shark has a long, narrow body that’s about 10 feet long. These sharks are threatened and are rarely hunted by other marine life, however, they’re frequent victims of bycatch. They feed on invertebrates like octopus and squid.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium said the only fatal shark attack to happen in the state was in 1975. A fishing boat capsized with a couple onboard, 200 miles offshore of Astoria. While the man drowned, the woman was found dead with several shark bites believed to be those of a blue shark. Besides this incident, there has never been a report of a blue shark attacking a human.
4. Broadnose sevengill shark
These sharks can easily be distinguished by their seven gill slits as most sharks only have five.
Since the 17th century, there are only five recorded attacks by the broadnose shark (never in Oregon). They’re only known to be aggressive when feeding, mating or provoked.
5. Sixgill shark
The sixgill shark looks similar to the sevengill, but with six gills and striking green eyes, according to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Since it has a solitary life in deep water, scientists don’t know much about it, but it’s believed it can live over 80 years.
While there have been no attacks in Oregon, it was reported that sixgill sharks attacked a submarine with a camera crew inside while filming for “Blue Planet 2.”
6. Common thresher shark
This shark grows up to 20 feet long with an extremely long tail fin. The fin is used like a whip for defense against predators and to capture prey. Despite its size, the shark has small teeth.
7. Leopard shark
It’s easy to spot this shark thanks to its pattern of bars and spots that are all along its body. This unique camouflage helps it hide in the sunlight. Leopard sharks are the nomads of the waters — they often travel great distances without ever revisiting the same spot twice.
Since these sharks are pretty shy, they pose little to no danger to humans.
8. Pacific angelshark
Angelsharks are found on the ocean floor near rocky reefs and help forests. Their flat bodies resemble that of rays — but their pectoral finds aren’t attached and their mouths are in front of the head.
Though they’re not considered dangerous, there are records of them biting scuba divers when harassed.
9. Salmon shark
These sharks are found in the north Pacific and have an average length of around 7 feet long. They eat salmon, squid, birds and herring.
Salmon sharks can be kept and eaten by those who legally catch them, however, they’re typically caught as bycatch and discarded. They’re considered “pests” by fishermen.
10. Shortfin mako shark
This species of shark is the fastest in the ocean — reaching speeds of 45 miles per hour. It can grow up to 12 feet long and weigh 1,200 pounds.
Since they live in deeper waters, they’re typically only threatening to fishermen or divers. According to divers, the sharks swim in a figure eight pattern prior to an attack.
11. School soupfin shark
Meet one of Oregon’s small shark species. Most of its fins are tipped in black. It’s also known as tope shark, snapper shark and school shark.
Its meat is rich in vitamins — making it desirable in both Asian and European markets.
12. Spiny dogfish shark
This shark is considered unusual due to its sharp, venomous spine directly in front of its dorsal fins. It also has no anal fin, which is common on most sharks.
Since they’re relatively small, they’re opportunistic feeders and prefer smaller fish.
13. Brown smooth-hound shark
The smooth-hound shark is small and found in enclosed, shallow bays. It’s a bottom-dweller that eats crabs, shrimp and small fish.
Since this shark is so small, it’s harmless to humans.
There are three species of catshark that are native to Oregon: the brown, longnose and filetale. They get their name from the way their eyes glow when reflecting light.
Little is known about these species, but they’re believed to be a solitary and nocturnal species.
15. Pacific sleeper shark
This slow-moving shark is found in the cold, deep waters all along the West Coast. While slow, it’s capable of silent and extreme movement when hunting for octopus, rockfish and crab. Some of these sharks that have been caught exceed 20 feet and 8,000 pounds, which is almost the size of an adult orca.
Little is known about these sharks in Oregon, but their tissue is reported to be toxic to humans due to the presence of trimethylamine.