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How Many Teeth Does A Shark Really Have?
Posted on Sunday, August 07, 2011 by eNature

Wouldn’t it be nice if our teeth replaced themselves whenever we needed a fresh set? No more drills. No more crowns. No more denture adhesives. That’s what happens to sharks.

In fact, some sharks replace their teeth every few weeks.

The teeth inside a shark’s mouth are arranged in rows, like seats in a theater. While the outermost teeth do the work of grabbing, cutting, or crushing prey—their function varies from species to species—the inner rows of teeth mature. Then, when the shark sheds the worn outer teeth, the next row takes their place.

It’s a process that continues throughout the shark’s life, with teeth being replaced more frequently the more actively the shark feeds.

Ever encounter a shark’s teeth up close?  If so, you’re in a very small minority.  Despite all the attention they get in the news, shark attacks on humans are actually quite rare.  They’re generally no more eager to meet us than we are to meet them

Even so, it never pays to tempt fate!  So pay attention to warnings when you’re swimming in areas know to be frequented by sharks.

Got a shark story to share?  Tell us in the comment section below.

Click here to learn more about sharks found around North America »



In October 1997 I was aboard the Oceanic Society whale watch vessel New Superfish, as a volunteer for Cascadia Research in Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary to capture blue and humpback identification photos. But before we were even at the Farallon Islands a party boat skipper advised us of the presence of two killer whales near the islands - a rarity. They’d just killed and partly consumed a sea lion.

We headed for the site and found the two KWs; the naturalist and whale watchers focused on them as they milled around the boat’s starboard stern. Suddenly, the deckhand and I, who were perched higher on the wheelhouse roof,looked down to see a dark shark shape and dorsal fin sliding close alongside the boat, then veering off at a right angle. The larger KW broke off milling, and set an intercept course for the shark. Seas building to BFT 4l prohibited any of us from seeing the moment of contact (which may have taken place completely underwater, from all we knew), but 15 minutes later (I was timing and recording everything) the KW, later i-d’d from the CAL/MEX KW catalog, reappeared with the inverted shark in its mouth. It swam around the boat a few times, repositioning it at least once. Researchers from the island sped out and were able to capture underwater footage of the aftermath of the killing and the other KW’s partial consumption of the shark’s liver(they were adult females CA2 and CA6). NatGeo produced a good documentary about 2 years ago, with additional information on tonic immobility and shark/KW interactions. Check it out on the web!

Posted by Mary Jane Schramm on 8/8

Yeah so, answer your own question, how many teeth does a shark have???  (Lot’s doesn’t count) Peace, John

Posted by John of Milpitas on 8/8

If you re-read the end of item, it invites the reader “Got a shark story to share?  Tell us in the comment section below.” Which is precisely what I did! - MJ

Posted by Mary Jane Schramm on 8/8

Thank you for sharing your experience with the Killer Whales and the shark.  I enjoyed reading it.  Forget about the “smartie pants” comment. Some people just can’t be kind…bet he doesn’t have many friends…if he does, maybe they are sharks!

Posted by Cheryl LaFrance on 8/8

Saw the event with the orcas and the shark on NatGeo, awesome. 
I had an episode with a shark when diving abalone commercially in Southern California in 1975.  I was diving in 50’ of water off the Windansea region of La Jolla and had an overhead pass from a Great White about 9 or 10 feet in length.  I followed my air hose to a position under the boat, and forced myself not to outrun the bubbles on the way to the surface.  Made it over the transom of the boat with no assistance from the dive step.  I never saw the shark on the surface or during the ascent. 
Windansea is a short distance from La Jolla Cove, where a diver named George Pamperin was killed by a great white in 1959.

Posted by Greg Arnold on 8/8

I don’t think John was referring to Mary Jane.  I think he was referring to the original article.

Posted by Jay on 8/8

Typically a shark has two to three working rows of teeth with 20 to 30 teeth in each row, from sharks that I’ve caught that seems accurate.  The teeth of the great white are highly specialized for ripping flesh, the examination of bite wounds
on whale carcasses shows the ripple edge marks from the teeth.  Shark Week on the Discovery Channel went into some detail on this subject, and showed grey seals hauled up on New England beaches with monstrous bite wounds which were fatal.

Posted by Greg Arnold on 8/8

Learn why Sharks are such good hunters.

Posted by Christina on 8/9

Ya Mary Jane, contrary to what a lot of “dopers” would think, not everything is about you.

Posted by Wonka on 8/9

Way down south on the tip of Texas, we had a beach called Steamers which was a spot known for its parked shrimp boats that rammed ashore during dark or foggy occasions historically speaking of South Padre Island. The surf on this typical day was small and inconsistent which led me and my wife to walk down to Steamers to catch a few peaks away from the small crowd in the water next to the jetties. It was a nice sunny morning with a green blanket of water covering the coast. I was riding a 6’2 Canyon surfboard and had to paddle harder to catch the few ripples that occasionally came my way. I thought it might have been my splashing and thrashing of salt water that created much friction in the gulf for me to signal a distressed signal to some ocean predator. After sitting in my spot for a few minutes, I noticed a small dorsal fin heading straight for me; I wasn’t sure what it was at first, but my instinctive reaction was that it was a shark. As it was closing in on me, I was certain it was a shark, but what kind? I remained still until it kept coming directly closer toward me. I had hoped that it would turn or submerge and ignore me; but that was not the case. When it was ten feet away, I quickly managed to balance all four limbs of me on the deck of my board, holding the rails steadily. It was a small hammer head that came up for a better look, noticing that I was too big of prey for its jaws to grind; for it was about as long as my arm. Then after sizing my image for a moment, it began to chomp on the left side of my rail just inches from my left hand. I countered with a slap to its side and it wiggled violently, and again it bit my board grinding more teeth marks into the fiber. It bit repeatedly but never tore a chunk off.  Again, I slapped it and yelled “I’m out of here!” and paddled westward - hard and fast. Churning up more water, I stood up, riding the crest of my own wake!  When I stood up, a small wave began to form beneath me and took me into the shallows until I was ankle deep. This was one of the best waves of my life because it spared me from a shark attack; I might have lost a finger or two in the scuffle. Oh yeah, I have had other shark encounters, but none as personal as this one.

Posted by James on 8/9

wow thats scary
i agree with john, the article should tell us how many teeth a shark had

Posted by rdragon on 8/9

I didn’t stick around to count, rdragone!!!

Posted by James on 8/9

why didn’t you?

Posted by Ana on 8/15

Daaah!!! Can’t you READ, purr-Ana?! Jas was scared for his life, although he did mention almost losing “a finger or two.”

Posted by Son of Thunder on 8/15

All I know about sharks teeth, is that it was so much fun picking them from the sand on Onslow Beach at Camp Lejeune (NC).  These were the ones replaced by new teeth…........many, many sizes.  My daughter in-law has one that is almost as big as the palm of her hand, I have some very, very tiny ones as well as pretty average size.

Posted by Nancy Thurmond on 8/24

The amount of teeth that sharks have vary according to the species, from 5 to 15 rows of teeth in each jaw.
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Posted by Brian on 8/30

On bang carcasses shows the ripple bend marks from the teeth. Shark Week on the Discovery Channel went into some detail on this subject, and showed blah seals hauled up on New England beaches with aberrant chaw wounds which were fatal.


Posted by Repos on 10/18
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