Are There Sharks in the Florida Everglades waters?


Our guests often ask us if Everglades shark sightings have ever happened.  Yes, there are also Everglades sharks that live throughout the ‘glades.

The Everglades, spanning from Orlando all the way down into the Florida Keys, is bustling with vegetation and wildlife of all shapes, colors, and sizes. Perhaps most famous to the Everglades is the American alligator, which brings millions of onlookers each year, all hoping to catch a glimpse from the safety of an airboat. Taking an Everglades excursion ensures an adventure!


The American Alligator is undoubtedly the most sought-after and feared animal roaming the Everglades waters. People travel from all over to see this mighty predator.  What is unique about the Everglades is that it also provides an excellent environment for crocodiles, making it the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators live side-by-side.

Considering the access points to the Everglades in South Florida are situated more inland, many people forget about other potential predators looming just beneath the surface. Certain species of sharks make up part of the Everglades ecosystem.


It may be surprising to learn that sharks can live in the Everglades as well, considering they are thought to require saltwater, which would restrict them to oceans. Contrary to popular belief, there are a few species of sharks that can adapt and live in freshwater, including blacktip sharks, lemon sharks, and bull sharks. Bull sharks, known as one of the most aggressive species of shark, can be found living in the Everglades freshwater and are known for cruising the river mouths, coastlines, and estuarine areas for smaller prey. The various streams and rivers of the Everglades feed into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, providing a haven for blacktips and lemon sharks from their predators. Come spot a shark during private airboat tours and enjoy the journey!


Sharks use an internal process called osmoregulation, which helps them maintain and control water and salt concentrations within their body. Sharks in the Everglades use this tool to adjust their kidneys to withstand varying salinity based on the type of water they’re swimming in. So, if you’re considering swimming in the Everglades, think again since alligators, crocodiles, AND sharks share these waters.


Head down to Everglades Holiday Park for a day of outdoor adventure in Fort Lauderdale. Cruise around guided by Everglades tour specialists in our covered airboat voyages, and keep an eye out for interesting marine life!

FAQs About Sharks in the Everglades

What Sharks Can Be Found in the Florida Everglades?

The shark species in Everglades waters is diverse, as experts believe several predatory animals are present in its freshwater habitat. There are already confirmed sightings of lemon sharks. Bull sharks have also found their way into marine life in Florida Everglades and are believed to be one of the most aggressive shark species. They may be found in Florida coastal areas and have been sighted by Everglades wildlife and shark experts. Blacktip sharks are extremely rare in Everglades National Park. However, they also belong to the shark species that can survive in fresh and salt water. The Shark Valley Everglades visitor center in Miami is a popular place to learn more about and to go shark spotting.

Which Shark Species Can Live in Freshwater?

Some sharks can survive in freshwater, although most sharks live in saltwater habitats. In some instances, you might find sharks eating or crushing the fish in these habitats. Shark species that can live in freshwater include Speartooth sharks, Bull sharks, Northern River sharks, and Ganges sharks, to mention a few.

Everglades aquatic ecosystems are home to several shark species because they provide a safe environment for freshwater shark species to thrive and evade their predators. On rare occasions, you may find blacktip sharks, bull sharks, and even lemon sharks in the Everglades.

I Saw a Video Showing a Shark Pulling a Fisherman Overboard in the Everglades. Is This Common?

Shark attacks are extremely uncommon in Florida, particularly in Everglades National Park. There’s a video showing a man being attacked by a shark. The shark latched onto the man’s hand, and the video shows the shark grabbing him till the man falls overboard. The man, identified as Nick, was wearing a white hoodie bending by the side of the boat. Someone off-screen tells him not to — seconds later, a shark emerges and latches onto his fingers. The Florida fisherman falls overboard and engages in seconds of struggle in the swamp. The other man rushes his friend and quickly gets back on board, only to reveal the blood and chum of his bitten fingers.

A  spokesperson for the Everglades said it was unclear what species was responsible for this possible shark attack. He was taken to the park rangers and airlifted by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue to the local hospital for immediate treatment. Recalling the terrifying event, Nick stated that it felt consistent with a shark bite. Reports later confirmed that a shark bit the man as he was leaning overboard. National parks told CBS News about the incident, emphasizing the rarity of such occurrences in the region.

The video clearly showed Nick being dragged by a shark after the unsuspecting fisherman was almost pulled into the water. Witnesses at the scene could only describe it as a possible shark bite. As investigations continue, it remains unclear what specific kind of shark was behind this shocking event.

Can I Go Swimming in the Everglades?

No, swimming in the Everglades is discouraged for several reasons. The National Park Service advises you to keep a safe distance, preferably 15–20 feet away from the coast. Avoid swimming, snorkeling, or diving in any freshwater lake in this region because of the risk of shark attacks. Unless it is certified safe by the authorities, fishing on a boat in the Everglades, particularly a boat in Florida, can be hazardous. Ensure the area is free from sharks and, according to the Florida guidelines, do not put your hands in the water. Additionally, you should never presume that an animal in Everglades National Park is injured, decapitated, or fabricated, as they are most likely resting or lying low.

How are the Everglades connected to saltwater habitats like the Florida Keys or Florida Bay?

Everglades National Park is a Wetland of International Importance and a World Heritage Site. It is made up of 1,625 square kilometers of Florida Bay and is protected by the National Park Service. Florida Bay is a shallow lagoon that is bordered to the east by the Florida Keys, covering an area of around 2,200 square kilometers. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, it is situated south of Everglades National Park and the Florida Everglades and is filled with numerous wildlife.

Florida Bay is where the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico meet the Everglades. Being an estuary, Florida Bay contains both freshwater and saltwater habitats. Thus, these lands of swamps are interconnected since the Keys depend on Florida Bay for its freshwater supply. Preserving the Everglades will have important ecological advantages for areas like Florida Bay, which rely on freshwater from the Everglades to maintain the vital balance between fresh and saltwater required for healthy estuaries, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

Are Shark Bites Uncommon in Everglades National Park?

Shark bites are extremely uncommon in Everglades National Park as well as Dry Tortugas National Park. Despite the recent viral video of a fisherman being bitten by a shark, these instances almost never occur. The park authorities warn outsiders to steer clear of the lakes, especially since sharks live alongside very dangerous alligators in the water bodies of the park. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission advises people to be vigilant of their surroundings, especially in water habitats, to prevent shark or alligator attacks. Exploring the Everglades with one of our knowledgeable airboat captains is a good way to see what this rich ecosystem has to offer safely.

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