Upper Left: Leopard Shark; Photo Credit: Mason Cummings, NPS; Courtesy of Aquarium of the Bay
Bottom Photo Credit: Mason Cummings, NPS; Courtesy of Aquarium of the Bay
Upper Right: Great White Shark; NOAA Photo

Several species of sharks live within the San Francisco Bay Area National Parks’ waters at different times of the year. As top predators, sharks play an integral role in maintaining equilibrium within their ecosystems. They also help maintain a healthy prey population because they usually hunt older, weaker, or sick prey. The dog fish (Squalus acanthias) and leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata) are year round residents in the area. Seasonal visitors to park waters include the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), the salmon shark (Lamna ditropis), and the infamous white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). The vast majority of sharks do not pose a threat to humans, despite common misconceptions.

Humans, on the other hand, are by far the greatest threat to most shark species. Since sharks grow slowly, breed late in life and generally bear few young, the populations of many species of sharks are declining dramatically. Without more regulations, many species will become extinct. Learn more about these amazing creatures under the Mutltimedia menu on the upper right of this page, or by clicking on the Links menu where you can find other resources on sharks in the San Francisco Bay Area.