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The Heaviest, Longest, Smallest ... Sharks reveals, which are the heaviest, longest und smallest sharks. Many people believe that sharks are very big. But only a few of the nearly 500 shark species reach a length of more than 13.1 feet (4 meters). Most of them measure between 24 and 40 inch (60 and 100 cm). You will find even more stunning facts on sharks below our list of records!

The Biggest Shark in the World

Mostly, the answer comes like a shot: “The white shark of course!” But this is not true. The whale shark and the basking shark are much bigger and heavier. But they are very peaceful and don’t go hunting like the white shark. They unhurriedly criss-cross the oceans and swallow water with their big mouths to feed on plankton and other other little creatures of the sea.

The Heaviest Sharks in the World

Whale shark 15-20 tons
Basking shark 19 tons
White shark 1.9 tons
Greenland shark 1 tons
Great hammerhead 1,278 lbs (580 kg)
Thresher shark 1,102 lbs (500 kg)
Bull shark 701 lbs (318 kg)

The Longest Sharks

Whale shark 41.50 feet (12.65 meters) *
Basking shark 40.38 feet (12.31 meters)
Greenland shark 20.9 feet (6.4 meters) ** 
White shark 20 feet (6.1 meters) ***
Great hammerhead 20 feet (6.1 meters)
Thresher shark 20 feet (6.1 meters)
Tiger shark 18 feet (5.5 meters)
Bigeye thresher 16 feet (4.88 meters)
Bluntnose sixgill shark 15.81 feet (4.82 meters)
Pacific sleeper shark 14,4 feet (4.4 meters) ****

The Smallest Sharks

Dwarf lanternshark 6.2 inches (16 cm)
Panama ghost catshark 8.18 inches (20.8 cm)
Pale catshark 8.26 inches (21 cm)
False catshark Eridacnis radcliffei 9 inches (23 cm)
Atlantic ghost catshark 9.8 inches (25 cm)
Lanternshark Etmopterus virens 10.23 inches (26 cm)
Broadnose catshark 10.23 inches (26 cm)
Lanternshark Centroscyllium granulatum 11 inches (28 cm)
Lanternshark Etmopterus polli 11.8 inches (30 cm)
Lanternshark Etmopterus africana 19.68 inches (50 cm)

* Length of up to 7.8 inch (20 cm) have been reported but never been confirmed.
** There probably exist specimens that are up to 23.9 feet (7.3 meters) long.
*** For a long time, the Guinness Book listed a record length of 36 feet (11 meters), which has been never confirmed however.
**** Allegedly animals with a length of 22.9 feet (7 meters) have been sighted.


White Shark White Shark - White Shark: Alexius Sutandio/Shutterstock

The Fastest Shark

Under water the mako shark reaches a speed of 43.4-49.7 mph (70-80 km/h). The unique surface of its skin enables the mako shark to glide through the water like a shot. In addition, the fish can jump up 29.5 feet (9 meters) high. If your house stood in the water, the shark could enter it through an open window on the second floor.

The Shark with the Longest Fin

Not all sharks use their sharp teeth to kill their prey. The thresher does it with its tail fin, which is half as long as its entire body and accounts for a third of its weight. It uses its tail to knock its prey unconscious or even kill it. This is the reason why these sharks are called “threshers”, because they use their tail fins just like a threshing flail.

The Shark with the Biggest Mouth

The mouth of the whale shark can be up to 4.9 feet (1.5 meters) wide. This approximately corresponds to the width of two room doors. The reason for this: The more water can flow through the shark’s mouth, the more plankton can be sucked in. After all, a big shark like this also has an enormous appetite.

Basking Shark Basking Shark - Photo: Grant M Henderson/Shutterstock


The Longest Migration

Not only humans, but also blue sharks sometimes find high temperatures unbearable. Therefore they move to colder oceans. One blue shark that was marked at the coast of New Zealand appeared again at the coast of Chile 7,456 miles (12,000 km) away. This distance corresponds to 240,000 164 feet (50 meters) swim lanes in a swimming pool. However, there are also exceptional talents among humans: In 2007, the Slovene Martin Strel swam the entire length of the Amazonas (3284 miles; 5,286 km). It took him a little more than two months.

The Most Playful Shark

When thinking of sharks, we always have the hunting white shark in mind. But there are also sharks that love to play. The porbeagle (that looks quite similar to the white shark) has been seen kicking seagrass about on the ground of the ocean. Could this be a kind of shark soccer? Scientists have not yet been able to find any reason for this behavior and think that the shark does it because it’s fun.

Are Sharks Dangerous?

Never mind sensational headlines in the press: You are more likely to be bitten by a human being than by a shark. Basically there are no dangerous sharks. But there are dangerous misunderstandings. Surfers are primarily affected by shark attacks as their boards look similar to big turtles or seals. Most shark accidents are not fatal, because sharks often only bite to check or as a warning if they feel threatened. Most sharks are peaceful. Life-threatening situations may arise in encounters with less than ten out of more than 350 genuine shark species.

What a shark sees What a shark sees - Illustration: Silke/


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