Are There Sharks In Detroit River? (Explained)

The Detroit River divides the metropolitan areas of Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario, and forms part of the border between Canada and the United States. The river flows 24 nautical miles from Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie, a strait between the Great Lakes. But are there sharks in the Detroit River?

A Bonnethead Shark was already found in the Detroit River in 2006. However, specialists say it was a fish tank pet released in the river. Although it’s not scientifically impossible for some sharks to live in freshwater, it’s very unlikely to swim this distance from the sea to the Detroit River.

There are certain sharks with the unique ability to adapt well to salt and freshwater, such as Bull Sharks, for example, that were already found more than 1000 miles distant from the sea. However, Bonnethead Sharks are not freshwater, so there is no official register of sharks in the Detroit River. But would it be possible for a shark to get to the Detroit River? I’ll explain it in detail in the next section.

Keep reading to learn all about sharks in the Detroit River.

Sharks In Detroit River: Is It Possible?

Swimming in a river can be dangerous for some apparent reasons. Bad things can happen, such as drowning, twisting an ankle, stepping on sharp objects, swallowing water with parasites, and even some dangerous animal encounters. However, sharks in a river it’s not something that most people imagine is possible.

There is no official record of sharks in the Detroit River. However, it’s not impossible to happen (but very unlikely). In 2006, a Bonnethead Shark was found in the Detroit River, but specialists later discovered that the animal was a fish tank pet that was released in the river.

Some may wonder if the Bonnethead Shark was released in the river or if it was a lie to keep people calm. However, in this case, all the evidence shows that the animal was a pet, especially because Bonnethead Sharks are not a freshwater species.

Bonnethead Shark in Detroit River

Most people have no idea that some shark species can live in salt and freshwater. Bull Sharks, for example, were already found swimming more than 1,000 miles from the sea. Considering such distances, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for some species of shark to get to the Detroit River.

Even so, the distance is not the only problem. Sharks are always looking for better places for them to eat and reproduce. Bull Sharks love shallow waters and rivers estuaries for nurseries, but it’s hard to imagine them traveling more than 1,000 miles and somehow finding a way to pass through the Niagra Falls to get to the Detroit River.

And that’s not the last problem. If somehow a Bull Shark manages to get to the river, the extremely cold winters and the lack of appropriate prey and food would make it nearly impossible to sustain the animal. In the following image, you can see the distance from the sea to the river.

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Bull Sharks In Rivers

Bull Sharks have never been found in the Detroit River, but it’s one of the most incredible (and dangerous) species of shark on Earth. They have developed the special ability to live in both salt and fresh water. And it’s not just that they were found a few meters from the sea or in river mouths. Bull Sharks have already been recorded in rivers thousands of miles from the sea.

The Bull Sharks are large animals and can grow up to 13 ft (4 meters). Opportunistic feeders, they target bony fishes, sharks, turtles, birds, dolphins, and terrestrial mammals. Shark attacks are rare, and the chances of dying in a shark incident are very low (1 in 4,332,817). Even so, some species have aggressive behavior, and this is the case for Bull Sharks, considered by the most dangerous shark in the world.

According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), Bull Sharks are responsible for at least 100 unprovoked attacks on humans, 27 of which with fatal victims. However, it’s likely that this species may responsible for many more.

“Its large size, proclivity for freshwater, abundance, and proximity to human populations, particularly in the tropics, makes it more of a potential threat than either the White shark or the Tiger shark. Since the bull shark occurs in several underdeveloped regions of the world, including Central America, Mexico, India, East, and West Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific, bites often go unreported. The Bull shark is also not as readily identified as the white shark or the tiger shark and so may be responsible for a large fraction of the attacks that go unassigned to species.”

ISAF 2018
NameBull Shark
Lifespan>25 years
Max SizeUp to 13 ft (4 meters)
AggressivenessVery Aggressive (Dangerous)
OccurrenceTropical and Subtropical Coastal Waters
PreferenceShallow Coastal Waters – Less than 100 ft (30 m)

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River Shark (Glyphis)

Glyphis is a genus in the family Carcharhinidae, commonly known as true freshwater sharks found in fresh and brackish water in Asia and Australia. There are only the official species in this genus, and three more are still being studied.

It’s hard to know exactly where they are living, as their precise geographic range is uncertain. The most common location with the confirmed presence of these animals is parts of South Asia, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and, of course, Australia. Of the three currently described species, the Ganges shark is restricted to freshwater, while the northern river shark and the spear tooth shark are found in coastal marine waters, as well.

While the Bull Shark is sometimes called river shark or Ganges shark, it shouldn’t be confused with the river sharks of the genus Glyphis. Bull Sharks evolved to have their offspring in freshwater, therefore, making them safe to roam in the water, while other sharks are only able to survive in saltwater.

The river shark is known to be one of the rarest sharks in the world, and they remain very poorly known to science. Currently, this species is in critically endangered status since they are so poorly studied, and people know very little about their population and life history. One of the primary threats to river sharks is habitat degradation, which includes human development, pollution, and fishing.

Related Questions

Are there any sharks in the Detroit River? A Bonnethead Shark was already found in the waters of the Detroit River. However, specialists discovered that the animal was actually a fish tank pet that was released in the river. There is no official record of sharks living in the Detroit River.


André Bonassoli

What’s up guys. I’m André, and I've been passionate about Sharks for as long as I can remember! I’ve created this site to share different things with you that I’ve learned and am constantly learning. Whether you're just here with some simple questions or you're passionate about Sharks as well, I'm glad you're here!

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