Discover the Sharks of Oregon

Worldwide, there are more than 400 species of sharks. Fifteen of them inhabit the waters off the Oregon coast at least part of each year. 

Fifteen species may not seem like many, but they represent enough variety to fascinate shark lovers and phobics alike. In our waters, we have a shark that’s indigo blue and a shark with electric-green eyes. We have one of the four most dangerous sharks in the world and a shark that never eats people but which, when eaten by humans, can intoxicate them.

Click on the links below to learn more about these 15 types of sharks that live off our shore. A size chart of these sharks from largest (up to 32 feet) to smallest (2 feet) is also found below.

Did you see a shark?

If you spot a shark off the PNW coast, The Big Fish Lab at OSU wants to know.

Fill out this Shark Sightings Report form to report any shark sightings in Oregon waters to OSU’s Big Fish Lab. These data are invaluable in learning more about shark movements and numbers in our region. 

Avoiding Shark Attacks

Although the relative risk of shark attack for humans is minimal, swimmers and surfers can help prevent attacks by following these safety tips from the International Shark Attack File:

  • Always stay in groups because sharks are more likely to attack a solitary person.
  • Do not swim or paddle too far from shore, away from the assistance of lifeguards or friends.
  • Do not enter the water if you are bleeding because a shark’s sense of smell is highly sensitive.
  • Avoid wearing shiny jewelry because the reflected light resembles the sheen of fish scales.
  • Avoid being a visual attraction for sharks — use extra caution when waters are murky.
  • Avoid the water if you have uneven tanning and bright-colored clothing because sharks see contrast particularly well.
  • Refrain from excessive splashing and don’t allow pets in the water because of their erratic movements.
  • Remember that sightings of porpoises do not indicate the absence of sharks — both eat the same food.
  • Exercise caution when occupying the area between the sandbars or near steep drop-offs where sharks hang out.
  • Do not enter the water if sharks are known to be around, and calmly evacuate the water if any sharks are seen.
  • Do not harass a shark — even nurse sharks can bite.
  • Avoid areas where people are fishing or using bait.

Visual Comparison -Largest to Smallest

Credit and Acknowledgements

The artwork and facts found in Sharks of Oregon are from a brochure of the same name produced by Oregon Sea Grant in 2004. Additional photographs and video are credited throughout the web pages.

Special recognition to illustrator, Duane Raver and original brochure editor, Sandy Ridlington.