Skip navigation

Get Hooked on Fish at Shark Awareness Day!

By Allie Wood

In the corner of your eye, you catch a dark shadow dart by your boat or feel a cool, slimy sensation on your ankle as you wade in our coastal waters. What fish lie in the depths of the Chesapeake Bay? 

Did you know, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the International Shark Attack File, there are no recorded shark attacks in the Chesapeake Bay? But that doesn’t mean they aren’t present, since the Chesapeake Bay is one of its most important nursery grounds in the western Atlantic ( Let’s examine two local shark species. 

Sandbar Shark 

According to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the sandbar shark, Carcharhinus plumbeus¸ is the most common large shark of the Virginia region. Named for the sandy flats, bays, and estuaries where it’s found, these sharks have a large first dorsal fin, large pectoral fins and a mid-dorsal ridge ( Averaging from eight to six feet in total length, the sandbar shark’s diet primarily consists of small bottom fishes, mollusks, and crustaceans. In the summer, they’ll use our coastal waters as a feeding ground. Due to shark finning and bycatch, the sandbar’s population is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.   

Smooth Dogfish 

Getting its name from swimming in packs, the smooth dogfish, Mustelus canis, can often be found seasonally in the lower Chesapeake Bay. Around five feet in length, the shark is typically found in waters less than 60 feet deep ( With its large, oval, catlike eyes, the smooth dogfish hunts for crustaceans and bony fish on the muddy bottoms of our waters. They can give birth to almost 20 pups (! 

Join Nauticus for Shark Awareness Day! On Saturday, July 16, dive into finn-tastic themed programming where you will: 

  • Get up and close with White-Spotted Bamboo and Epaulette Sharks in Shark Lab. 
  • Test your knowledge with our shark trivia. 
  • Discover shark superpowers that make them a unique predator. 
  • Polish your paleontology skills by searching for ancient shark teeth. 
  • Tabletop programming and information on conservation and sharks by Minorities in Shark Sciences. 
  • Fish for paper sharks with fish-shaped bean bags.
  • Shift through the sand to find your very own shark tooth to take home.
  • Explore other jawsome games and activities throughout the day.