Many people enjoy a beach trip for their summer vacation, whether it’s for swimming, sailing, playing in the sand, or just sunbathing. They go for a relaxing and fun time, but a run-in with a shark might turn that plan upside down. If you’re planning a trip to Galveston, you might be wondering; Does Galveston have sharks?

There are sharks in Galveston waters. While finding a completely shark-free beach is difficult, most sharks aren’t anything to be concerned about. 

If you’re considering Galveston as one of your vacation spots this year, you may be worried about the nearby shark population, and if it’s anything to be wary of. Read on to find out more. 

What Sharks Are There Near the Galveston Beaches?

Like most beaches, there’s diverse wildlife, both on land and in the water. This does, naturally, include sharks! We’ll go over the different species commonly found in Galveston, Texas beaches, their descriptions, and their temperaments below so you can identify them and assess if it’s safe to swim at the time of your visit. 

Spinner Sharks

The Spinner shark is named after the spinning motion it does when it jumps out of the water, usually doing flips before it lands back in the water. They’re known for being in warm coastal areas, making the Galveston beaches prime real estate for these sharks. 

They’re not too large compared to other sharks, ranging anywhere from 5 feet to 9 feet, but their teeth are relatively small. They can cut through fish and squid, but their narrow triangular teeth aren’t seen as a danger to us humans. 

There have been very few recorded bites from these sharks, none being fatal. Additionally, due to recent shark fishing, these sharks are close to being endangered so they may be an even less common sight.

Bull Sharks

Bull sharks’ snouts are the reason these sharks got their name. They’re short and thick, and they like to headbutt their prey. These sharks are even bigger than the spinners, being recorded around 13 feet or larger. Interestingly enough, these sharks are known to venture up rivers for long periods, and even give birth in freshwater. 

While shark attacks are quite rare, bull sharks are known to be more aggressive sharks. Despite this, they’re still not something to be afraid of. According to Florida Museum, this is one of the most dangerous sharks, however, there’s been 27 fatal bites from them. So, while they are more aggressive, it’s still not common for them to attack. 

Atlantic Sharpnose Sharks

Atlantic Sharpnose sharks are much smaller, and much less aggressive than the bull sharks. At full maturity, they rarely grow over 3.5 feet, making them much less intimidating. Typically, these sharks are only near beaches to mate; Otherwise, they like to stay in deeper offshore waters. 

Since these sharks do travel inshore to beaches, there’s been contact with humans. This shark has bitten people, but due to its size, it’s not known to be serious, and definitely not a fatal bite. Overall, these sharks aren’t much to worry about. They’re small, and if they do bite, it won’t be anything serious. 

Bonnethead Sharks

Much like the Sharpnose, the Bonnethead is a small shark. They have a maximum size of 5 feet, but on average they’re between 2 and 3 feet. They’re the smallest of the hammerhead sharks and are usually not alone. They travel in schools, usually 5-15 sharks, but have been seen in schools in the hundreds. 

The amount you see may be intimidating, but there’s only been one recorded unprovoked bite from a bonnethead shark. They’re very shy sharks and are considered harmless to humans. They’re also the only shark known to be omnivorous. 

When Do Sharks Get Close to Galveston Beaches?

Usually sharks get closest during their mating season, but every shark is different. Some stay close to shore all year, and some are only there for a short period, or to give birth. 

We’ll go into the specifics of the most common times to see the different kinds of sharks in Galveston below:

  • Spinner sharks are near shore in the summer months, after their long gestation period. 
  • Bull sharks typically stay in warm coastal waters, so these sharks are likely to stay all year. 
  • Sharpnose sharks mate in shallow warm waters from May to July, then migrate off to deeper waters. 
  • Bonnethead sharks give birth near shore, then go off to warmer water during winter months.

Now, let’s take a look at what you should do if a shark approaches you.

What Do You Do If a Shark Approaches You at Galveston Beach?

For the most part, it seems that most sharks aren’t too interested in people. 

However, if one does approach you, you should follow these procedures:

  • Stay calm. 
  • If a shark is spotted, carefully make your way to the shore. 
  • NBC News says to avoid sudden movements and try to maintain eye contact. You can back away slowly back to the beach, but try not to don’t thrash around and panic. 
  • If a shark is approaching and seems to be aggressive, you can use any objects near you or your fists to hit or kick any sensitive spots, such as the eyes, gills, or the snout.

Now you know everything about the sharks in Galveston waters and whether or not you should be concerned when you encounter them.


Finding a beach free of sharks or other intimidating wildlife is nearly impossible, but as long as you’re calm and respectful of the animals around you, you’ll be okay. Stay alert of your surroundings, but remember that shark attacks are pretty rare. Just have fun at the beach, and try not to worry yourself!