Sustainable Fishing, Marine Biology & Conservation
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Wednesday
May092012

Dusky Shark

(Carcharhinus obscurus)

Duskies are about as generic a shark as you can get. Gray/brown back, white belly, rounded nose, average size eyes, average size triangular teeth, average dorsal, no spots or other markings - that's a dusky. They're sleek, beautiful, strong fighting sharks that might be found in the surf or out along the edge of the Continental Shelf, they're always fun to catch, and sometimes a handful to work with. But there's just nothing out of the ordinary about this species, like I said - generic! I suppose it's because duskies are so basic that a lot of anglers for a lot of years have come to use the name "dusky" to describe any shark they can't easily identify.

The dusky's range covers most of the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. They're very opportunistic feeders and will eat just about anything they get inside their rather large jaws, including fish, rays, crustaceans, squid, and other sharks. Anglers can expect to hook duskies on any kind of bait and at any depth.

Duskies get big - really big, like 12' and over 700 pounds! But recreational angers seldom have the opportunity to encounter duskies of those proportions because thanks to overfishing, their numbers have dwindled critically in the past few decades and earned them a place on the NMFS Prohibited Species List, reserving them for catch-and-release only. These days most recreationally caught dusky sharks are hooked in the nearshore waters and are juveniles under 100-pounds.