Are There Sharks in San Francisco Bay – Is It Safe to Dive

12. Are There Sharks in San Francisco Bay1
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Is it surprising that seafood is so common in Bay Area restaurants? To get a closer look at the sharks and other marine life that call the San Francisco Bay home, let’s dive deep into the water.

According to San Francisco Bay Wildlife, there are 21 different varieties of sharks, along with rays and other sea creatures you wouldn’t want to come into contact with, living in the bay.

About the San Francisco Bay

Let’s first discuss the Bay itself before discussing what inhabits it. The Bay is regarded as one of the best natural harbors in the entire world as well as one of California’s most significant ecological features. The Bay spans a distance of 13 miles at its widest point and 60 miles overall. The Bay is enormous in size but only as deep as a swimming pool. In some places, the depth of the Bay is only 12 to 36 inches deep, which is less than 12 feet in 70% of the area! Large ships must therefore be able to pass through the Bay frequently, which requires dredging. Around the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay is 372 feet deep.

Are There Sharks in San Francisco Bay?

Yes, San Francisco Bay is home to numerous species of sharks, including sharks.

Great white sharks can be found swimming along the Pacific Coast from September to December, but unless they are lost or happen to be in San Francisco, they are rarely seen there.

In San Francisco Bay, there are 21 different varieties of sharks.

  • Broadnose Sevengill Shark – Notorynchus cepedianus
  • Bluntnose Sixgill Shark – Hexanchus griseus
  • Prickly Shark – Echinorhinus cookei
  • Spiny Dogfish – Squalus acanthias (in Bay)
  • Pacific Sleeper Shark – Somniosus pacificus
  • Pacific Angel Shark – Squatina californica
  • Bigeye Thresher Shark – Alopias superciliosus
  • Common Thresher Shark – Alopias vulpinas
  • Basking Shark – Cetorhinus maximus
  • Salmon Shark – Lamna ditropis
  • Great White Shark – Carcharodon carcharias
  • Shortfin Mako Shark – Isurus oxyrinchus
  • Brown Catshark – Apristurus brunneus
  • Swell Shark – Cephaloscyllium ventriosum
  • Filetail Catshark – Parmaturus xaniurus
  • Brown Smoothhound Shark – Mustelus henlei
  • Gray Smoothhound Shark – Mustelus californicus
  • Leopard Shark – Triakis semifasciata
  • Soupfin Shark – Galeorhinus zyopterus
  • Oceanic Whitetip Shark – Carcharhinus longimanus
  • Blue Shark – Prionace glauca

According to, the leopard shark, which calls San Francisco Bay his year-round home, is the shark that is most frequently encountered there.

The shark, which can reach a length of six feet, is gray with brown spots.

They survive by eating fish, shrimp, and clams that they find in the sediment on the bay floor.

There are numerous fish for leopard sharks, and there are even recipes online for cooking them, but consuming this fish carries significant risks.

They frequently live for decades, building up toxic waste like mercury and pesticides.

Because of this, health authorities advise against eating any sharks caught in bay waters, especially women and children under the age of 17.

12. Are There Sharks in San Francisco Bay2

Is It Safe to Swim in the San Francisco Bay?

Regardless of what you have read, swimming in San Francisco Bay can be dangerous and is not recommended.

For those looking to spend the afternoon splashing around in the water, San Francisco Bay should be crossed off the list. There are plenty of safe coves nearby.

The bay harbors numerous threats.

Here are just some of the concerns swimmers need to be aware of according to

  • Cold Temperatures: During the warm months, the San Francisco Bay can vary in temperature from 45 to 60. It can be difficult or impossible to swim in cold water because hyperthermia can set in.
  • Do Not Swim Alone: Although swimming in the bay is not advised, you should never go alone in case you end up in trouble.
  • Poor Visibility: It is simple to become lost and confused because of the fast-moving fog that comes in from the bay. This frequently results in swimmers moving farther from shore and into deeper water.
  • Boaters All-Around: San Francisco Bay has a lot of boaters that you should be aware of. There aren’t many swimmers in the bay, so they aren’t accustomed to watching out for them. Swimmers must therefore be on the lookout for them or avoid areas where boats are present.
  • Dangerous Rip Currents: Strong rip currents that form off the beaches in San Francisco Bay are well-known for being dangerous for swimming. Ocean Beach, which has the most drownings and the sturdiest currents, is the most hazardous. You can easily get swept out to sea from Ocean Beach and Angel Beach. They should therefore be avoided at all costs.
  • Pollution: The Bay is extremely polluted, so anyone considering swimming there should reconsider. Many swimmers who were not wearing protective gear and clothing have fallen ill after being in the water.

Interesting Shark Facts in the San Francisco Bay

The majority of the shark species in San Francisco Bay, according to, are not particularly aggressive toward humans, but you should never try your luck by trying to provoke a shark.

Any shark might view you as dinner if they feel threatened, particularly if you come across a group of sharks and interfere with their feeding or mating rituals.

Here are some facts about sharks in the San Francisco Bay:

  • In existence for 400 million years, sharks are a species that is very old.
  • There are 350 different species of sharks in the world, and the San Francisco Bay is home to at least 11 of them.
  • 73 million sharks are used in shark fin soup each year.
  • Due to the threat of extinction, more than 70 species of sharks are protected.

How Often Do Shark Attacks Happen?

The International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum lists 36 unprovoked shark attacks that have been confirmed to have occurred in Bay Area counties since 1926. Sonoma, Marin, San Francisco, Alameda, and San Mateo counties have all received reports of attacks.

With 11, Sonoma County has experienced the most shark attacks during that time. In addition to San Mateo County’s nine shark attacks, San Francisco’s five, and Alameda County’s one, Marin County has experienced ten shark attacks.

According to the museum’s data, San Diego County led all of California with 20 shark attacks. Not all shark attacks that were mentioned ended in death.

Sharks in Freshwater Vs. Saltwater

Thoughts of sharks in freshwater are typically not ones we have, but they do exist.

Sharks can end up in freshwater if they are in a waterway that connects an ocean to a lake or river, despite the fact that they typically prefer saltwater, according to

If the freshwater is deep, which makes it a good haven for sharks, then this is feasible.

Most sharks who unintentionally enter fresh water make every effort to return to their more suited saltwater habitats.

Only the bull shark is an exception to this rule.

They can modify their bodies to acclimate to both salt and freshwater.

It’s typically the bull shark that can be found in freshwater distributaries.

3 Safety Tips for Swimming in Shark-infested Water

Florida is known for having many shark attacks, here are some tips from Florida on how to avoid shark attacks in the San Francisco Bay and elsewhere:

  • Stay out of the water at night: When it comes to feeding, many shark species are most active at night, dawn, and dusk. A shark swimming in the shadowy water below will not be visible to humans at night because they are unable to see deep into the water.
  • Do not go in the water if you are bleeding or have open wounds: Even the smallest amount of blood can be detected by sharks by smell. If the source of the blood is a human, their oratory senses may point them in the direction of an aggressive attack.
  • Swim with others: A lone swimmer is the target of the majority of shark attacks, so avoid swimming alone. Avoid going into the water at all costs in dangerous areas. Alternately, if you do, go in groups.

Where to Swim With Fishes (and Sharks):

While there are numerous locations in San Francisco where you can learn to scuba dive, there aren’t many actual diving sites nearby. The best diving spots in the Bay Area can be found in Monterey, a breathtakingly beautiful natural setting two hours south of San Francisco, along the San Mateo coast, in the Santa Cruz region, and other nearby locations. It is the location of the well-known Monterey Bay Aquarium and miles of the most breathtaking coastline you will ever see.

Perhaps the best way to get up close and personal with the sea creatures native to the San Francisco Bay is by visiting Aquarium of the Bay is located at Pier 39 on Fisherman’s Wharf. You can see many of the sharks mentioned earlier, as well as bat rays, schools of anchovies, sturgeon, the enormous Pacific octopus, jellyfish, and the peculiar California sheephead, there. To learn more about tickets and special events, visit the aquarium’s website.

In Conclusion

The Bay’s sharks may not be particularly frightful creatures, and they are likely more afraid of you than you are of them. Hypothermia actually poses a greater risk to swimmers in the Bay than shark attacks or any other marine animal due to the average water temperature of 56°F. Decide whether you dare to enter the Bay. Avoid having any shark phobia.

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