Tags: Ground Sharks,  Taxonomy,  Hammerhead 

Ground Sharks

Order: Carcharhiniformes

The Ground Sharks are the largest of shark orders with 277 currently identified species which includes many of the most typical, well known sharks as well as some unusual and potentially dangerous ones. Ground Sharks include Bull Sharks, Hammerheads, Blacktip, and Catsharks.

While some of the Shark orders show great diversity as well as highly specialized characteristics, Ground Sharks enjoy more commonality within their order. They tend to be generally adapted, able to flourish in a broad array of habitats and enjoy a wide range of prey. Recent DNA evidence is showing that species of some of the Ground Shark families did not evolve from common ancestors, suggesting that there will be upcoming revisions to how certain species are classified.


Photo Gallery

See the great diversity of Ground Sharks

Characteristics of Ground Sharks

# of Species 
Body shape 
Despite diversity, there is much consistency among Ground Sharks. Rounded bodies. Many species are slender and also small, between 2-3 feet, while others are up to 10 feet. Hammerheads have the distinctive flattening of the head.
Mouth position 
Anal fin 
Dorsal Fin 
Fin spines 
# of Gill slits 
Variable: either oviparous, ovoviviparous, or viviparous (see glossary for definitions)
Unique qualities 
Eyes have 'nictitating' membranes, or lower eyelids which are closeable to some degree.
Ground Sharks are 'generalists', with broad range of habitat. Cover most marine habitats depending on species, from estuaries, coastal, open ocean, and even in some cases freshwater. Found in temperate to tropical zones of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.
Broad range of prey, including fish, other sharks, rays, squid and sea snakes



The 277 Species of Ground Shark



Common name


Family Scyliorhinidae - Cat Sharks - 150 species

Apristurus acanutus

Flatnose Catshark

Apristurus albisoma

White-bodied Catshark

Apristurus aphyodes

White Ghost Catshark

Apristurus atlanticus

Atlantic Ghost Catshark

Apristurus brunneus

Brown Catshark

Apristurus canutus

Hoary Catshark

Apristurus exsanguis

Deepwater Catshark, Pale Catshark

Apristurus federovi

Stout Catshark

Apristurus gibbosus

Humpback Catshark

Apristurus herklotsi

Longfin Catshark

Apristurus indicus

Smallbelly Catshark

Apristurus internatus

Shortnose Demon Catshark

Apristurus investigatoris

Broadnose Catshark

Apristurus japonicus

Japanese Catshark

Apristurus kampae

Longnose Catshark

Apristurus laurussoni

Iceland Catshark

Apristurus longicephalus

Longhead Catshark

Apristurus macrorhynchus

Flathead Catshark

Apristurus macrostomus

Broadmouth Catshark

Apristurus manis

Ghost Catshark

Apristurus microps

Smalleye Catshark

Apristurus micropterygeus

Smalldorsal Catshark

Apristurus nasutus

Largenose Catshark

Apristurus parvipinnis

Smallfin Catshark

Apristurus pinguis

Fat Catshark

Apristurus platyrhynchus

Spatulasnout Catshark

Apristurus profundorum

Deepwater Catshark

Apristurus riveri

Broadgill Catshark

Apristurus saldanha

Saldanha Catshark

Apristurus sibogae

Pale Catshark

Apristurus sinensis

South China Catshark

Apristurus spongiceps

Spongehead Catshark

Apristurus stenseni

Panama Ghost Catshark

Apristurus verweyi

Borneo Catshark

Apristurus sp. A

Freckled Catshark

Apristurus sp. B

Bigfin Catshark

Apristurus sp. C

Fleshynose Catshark

Apristurus sp. D

Roughskin Catshark

Apristurus sp. E

Bulldog Catshark

Apristurus sp. F

Bighead Catshark

Apristurus sp. G

Pinocchio Catshark

Apristurus sp.


Apristurus sp.


Apristurus sp.

White-edged Catshark (California)

Apristurus sp.

Black Wonder Catshark (Southern Africa)

Apristurus sp.

Grey Ghost Catshark (Melville Ridge)

Asymbolus analis

Grey Spotted Catshark

Asymbolus funebris

Blotched Catshark

Asymbolus occiduus

Western Spotted Catshark

Asymbolus pallidus

Pale Spotted Catshark

Asymbolus parvus

Dwarf Catshark

Asymbolus rubiginosus

Orange Spotted Catshark

Asymbolus submaculatus

Variegated Catshark

Asymbolus vincenti

Gulf Catshark

Asymbolus sp.

New Caledonia Spotted Catshark

Atelomycterus fasciatus

Banded Sand Catshark

Atelomycterus macleayi

Australian Marbled Catshark

Atelomycterus marmoratus

Coral Catshark

Atelomycterus sp. A

Whitespotted Sand Catshark

Aulohalaelurus kanakorum

New Caledonia Catshark

Aulohalaelurus labiosus

Blackspotted Catshark

Bythaelurus alcocki

Arabian Catshark

Bythaelurus canescens

Dusky Catshark

Bythaelurus cleavi

Broadhead Catshark

Bythaelurus dawsoni

New Zealand Catshark

Bythaelurus hispidus

Bristly Catshark

Bythaelurus immaculatus

Spotless Catshark

Bythaelurus lutarius

Mud Catshark

Bythaelurus [=Halaelurus] sp. A

Sombre Catshark

Bythaelurus sp.

Galapagos Catshark

Cephaloscyllium fasciatum

Reticulated Swellshark

Cephaloscyllium isabellum

Draughtsboard Shark

Cephaloscyllium laticeps

Australian Swellshark

Cephaloscyllium silasi

Indian Swellshark

Cephaloscyllium sufflans

Balloon Shark

Cephaloscyllium umbratile

Japanese Swellshark

Cephaloscyllium ventriosum


Cephaloscyllium sp. A

Whitefin Swellshark

Cephaloscyllium sp. B

Saddled Swellshark

Cephaloscyllium sp. C

Northern Draghtsboard Shark

Cephaloscyllium sp. D

Narrowbar Swellshark

Cephaloscyllium sp. E

Speckled Swellshark

Cephaloscyllium sp.

New Guinea Swellshark

Cephaloscyllium sp.

Dwarf Oriental Swellshark

Cephaloscyllium sp.

Dwarf Balloon Shark

Cephaloscyllium sp.

New Caledonia Swellshark

Cephaloscyllium sp.

Red Sea Swellshark

Cephaloscyllium sp.

Philippines Swellshark

Cephalurus cephalus

Lollipop Catshark

Galeus antillensis

Antilles Catshark

Galeus arae

Roughtail Catshark

Galeus atlanticus

Atlantic Sawtail Catshark

Galeus boardmani

Australian Sawtail Catshark

Galeus cadenati

Longfin Sawtail Catshark

Galeus eastmani

Gecko Catshark

Galeus gracillis

Slender Sawtail Catshark

Galeus longirostris

Longnose Sawtail Catshark

Galeus melastomus

Blackmouth Catshark

Galeus minocaronei

Southern Sawtail Catshark

Galeus murinus

Mouse Catshark

Galeus nipponensis

Broadfin Sawtail Catshark

Galeus piperatus

Peppered Catshark

Galeus polli

African Sawtail Catshark

Galeus sauteri

Blacktip Sawtail Catshark

Galeus schultzi

Dwarf Sawtail Catshark

Galeus springeri

Springer's Sawtail Catshark

Galeus sp. B

Northern Sawtail Catshark

Galeus sp.

Indonesian Sawtail Catshark

Galeus sp.

Philippines Sawtail Catshark

Halaelurus boesemani

Speckled Catshark

Halaelurus buergeri

Darkspot Catshark

Halaelurus lineatus

Lined Catshark

Halaelurus natalensis

Tiger Catshark

Halaelurus quagga

Quagga Catshark

Haploblepharus edwardsii

Puffadder Shyshark

Haploblepharus fuscus

Brown Shyshark

Haploblepharus pictus

Dark Shyshark

Haploblepharus kistnasamyi

Natal Shyshark

Holohalaelurus melanostigma

Tropical Izak Catshark

Holohalaelurus punctatus

African Spotted Catshark

Holohalaelurus regani

Izak Catshark

Holohalaelurus sp.

East African Spotted Catshark

Parmaturus campechiensis

Campeche Catshark

Parmaturus macmillani

New Zealand Filetail

Parmaturus melanobranchius

Blackgill Catshark

Parmaturus pilosus

Salamander Catshark

Parmaturus xaniurus

Filetail Catshark

Parmaturus sp. A

Shorttail Catshark

Parmaturus sp.

Indonesian Filetail Catshark

Parmaturus sp.

Gulf of Mexico Filetail

Pentanchus profundicolus

Onefin Catshark

Poroderma africanum

Striped (Pyjama) Catshark

Poroderma pantherinum

Leopard Catshark

Schroederichthys bivius

Narrowmouth Catshark

Schroederichthys chilensis

Redspotted Catshark

Schroederichthys maculatus

Narrowtail Catshark

Schroederichthys saurisqualus

Lizard Catshark

Schroederichthys tenuis

Slender Catshark

Scyliorhinus besnardi

Polkadot Catshark

Scyliorhinus boa

Boa Catshark

Scyliorhinus canicula

Smallspotted Catshark

Scyliorhinus capensisus

Yellowspotted Catshark

Scyliorhinus cervigoni

West African Catshark

Scyliorhinus comoroensis

Comoro Catshark

Scyliorhinus garmani

Brownspotted Catshark

Scyliorhinus haeckelii

Freckled Catshark

Scyliorhinus hesperius

Whitesaddled Catshark

Scyliorhinus meadi

Blotched Catshark

Scyliorhinus retifer

Chain Catshark

Scyliorhinus stellaris


Scyliorhinus tokubee

Izu Catshark

Scyliorhinus torazame

Cloudy Catshark

Scyliorhinus torrei

Dwarf Catshark


Family Proscylliidae - Finback Cat Sharks - 5 species

Ctenacis fehlmanni

Harlequin Catshark

Eridacnis barbouri

Cuban Ribbontail Catshark

Eridacnis radcliffei

Pygmy Ribbontail Catshark

Eridacnis sinuans

African Ribbontail Catshark

Proscyllium habereri

Graceful Catshark


Family Pseudotriakidae - False Catsharks - 4 species

Gollum attenuatus

Slender Smoothhound

Gollum sp.

Philippine Slender Smoothhound

Pseudotriakis microdon

False Catshark

[New genus] [new species]

Pygmy False Catshark


Family Leptochariidae - Houndshark - 1 species

Leptocharias smithii

Barbelled Houdshark


Family Triakidae - Smoothhound Sharks - 47 species

Furgaleus macki

Whiskery Shark

Galeorhinus galeus

Liver Oil Shark

Gogolia filewoodi

Sailback Houndshark

Hemitriakis abdita

Deepwater Sicklefin Houndshark

Hemitriakis complicofasciata

Ocellate Topeshark

Hemitriakis japanica

Japanese Topeshark

Hemitriakis falcata

Sicklefin Smoothhound

Hemitriakis leucoperiptera

Whitefin Topeshark

Hemitriakis sp.

Philippine Ocellate Topeshark

Hypogaleus hyugaensis

Blacktip Topeshark

Iago garricki

Longnose Houndshark

Iago omanensis

Bigeye Houndshark

Iago sp.

Lowfin Houndshark

Iago sp.

Bengal Smalltail Houndshark

Mustelus antarcticus

Gummy Shark

Mustelus asterias

Starry Smoothhound

Mustelus californicus

Grey Smoothhound

Mustelus canis

Dusky Smoothhound

Mustelus dorsalis

Sharpnose Smoothhound

Mustelus fasciatus

Striped Smoothhound

Mustelus griseus

Spotless Smoothound

Mustelus henlei

Brown Smoothhound

Mustelus higmani

Smalleye Smoothhound

Mustelus lenticulatus

Spotted Estuary Smoothound

Mustelus lunulatus

Sicklefin Smoothhound

Mustelus manazo

Starspotted Smoothhound

Mustelus mento

Speckled Smoothound

Mustelus minicanis

Venezuelan Dwarf Smoothhound

Mustelus mosis

Arabian Smoothhound

Mustelus mustelus


Mustelus norrisi

Narrowfin Smoothhound

Mustelus palumbes

Whitespot Smoothhound

Mustelus punctulatus

Blackspot Smoothhound

Mustelus schmitti

Narrownose Smoothhound

Mustelus sinusmexicanus

Gulf of Mexico Smoothhound

Mustelus whitneyi

Humpback Smoothhound

Mustelus ravidus (Mustelus sp. A)

Grey Gummy Shark

Mustelus sp. B

Whitespotted Gummy Shark

Mustelus sp.

Broadnose Smoothhound

Mustelus sp.

Pacific Narrownose Smoothhound

Mustelus sp. cf. manazo

New Caledonia Smoothhound

Scylliogaleus quecketti

Flapnose Houndshark

Triakis acutipinna

Sharpfin Houndshark

Triakis maculata

Spotted Houndshark

Triakis megalopterus

Spotted Gully Shark

Triakis scyllium

Banded Houndshark

Triakis semifasciata

Leopard Shark


Family Hemigaleidae - Weasel Sharks -8 species

Chaenogaleus macrostoma

Hooktooth Shark

Hemigaleus australiensis

Australian Weasel Shark

Hemigaleus microstoma

Sicklefin Weasel Shark

Hemipristis elongatus

Snaggletooth Shark

Paragaleus leucolomatus

Whitetip Weasel Shark

Paragaleus pectoralis

Atlantic Weasel Shark

Paragaleus randalli

Slender Weasel Shark

Paragaleus tengi

Straighttooth Weasel Shark


Family Carcharhinidae - Whaler Sharks - 54 species

Carcharhinus acronotus

Blacknose Shark

Carcharhinus albimarginatus

Silvertip Shark

Carcharhinus altimus

Bignose Shark

Carcharhinus amblyrhynchoides

Graceful Shark

Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos

Grey Reef Shark

Carcharhinus amboinensis

Java Shark

Carcharhinus borneensis

Borneo Shark

Carcharhinus brachyurus

Bronze Whaler

Carcharhinus brevipinna

Spinner Shark

Carcharhinus cautus

Nervous Shark

Carcharhinus dussumieri

Whitecheek Shark

Carcharhinus falciformis

Silky Shark

Carcharhinus fitzroyensis

Creek Whaler

Carcharhinus galapagensis

Galapagos Shark

Carcharhinus hemiodon

Pondicherry Shark

Carcharhinus isodon

Finetooth Shark

Carcharhinus leiodon

Smoothhound Blacktip

Carcharhinus leucas

Bull Shark

Carcharhinus limbatus

Blacktip Shark

Carcharhinus longimanus

Oceanic Whitetip Shark

Carcharhinus macloti

Hardnose Shark

Carcharhinus melanopterus

Blacktip Reef Shark

Carcharhinus obscurus

Dusky Shark

Carcharhinus perezi

Caribbean Reef Shark

Carcharhinus plumbeus

Sandbar Shark

Carcharhinus porosus

Smalltail Shark

Carcharhinus sealei

Blackspot Shark

Carcharhinus signatus

Night Shark

Carcharhinus sorrah

Spottail Shark

Carcharhinus tilstoni

Australian Blacktip Shark

Carcharhinus sp.

False Smalltail Shark

Galeocerdo cuvier

Tiger Shark

Glyphis gangeticus

Ganges Shark

Glyphis glyphis

Speartooth Shark

Glyphis siamensis

Irrawaddy River Shark

Glyphis sp. A

Bizant River Shark

Glyphis sp. B

Borneo River Shark

Glyphis sp. C

New Guinea River Shark

Isogomphodon oxyrhynchus

Daggernose Shark

Lamiopsis temmincki

Broadfin Shark

Loxodon macrorhinus

Sliteye Shark

Nasolamia velox

Whitenose Shark

Negaprion acutidens

Sharptooth Lemon Shark

Negaprion brevirostris

Lemon Shark

Prionace glauca

Blue Shark

Rhizoprionodon acutus

Milk Shark, White-eyed Shark

Rhizoprionodon lalandi

Brazilian Sharpnose Shark

Rhizoprionodon longuirio

Pacific Sharpnose Shark

Rhizoprionodon oligolinx

Grey Sharpnose Shark

Rhizoprionodon porosus

Caribbean Sharpnose Shark

Rhizoprionodon taylori

Australian Sharpnose Shark

Rhizoprionodon terraenovae

Atlantic Sharpnose Shark

Scoliodon laticaudus

Spadenose Shark

Triaenodon obesus

Whitetip Reef Shark


Family Sphyrnidae - Hammerhead Sharks -8 species

Eusphyra blochii

Winghead Shark

Sphyrna corona

Mallethead Shark

Sphyrna lewini

Scalloped Hammerhead

Sphyrna media

Scoophead Shark

Sphyrna mokarran

Great Hammerhead

Sphyrna tiburo

Bonnethead Shark

Sphyrna tudes

Smalleye Hammerhead

Sphyrna zygaena

Smooth Hammerhead


Red indicates inclusion on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species