The spinner shark is a large yet slender fast-swimming shark that often leaps "spinning" as it explodes upward from the water.
They are a gray-bronze colored shark with a white underbelly and pointed snout. These schooling sharks are often mistaken for black tip sharks in Florida. Spinner sharks have black tips on their dorsal, pectoral fins and tail fins.
Spinner sharks feed mainly on fish. They like to swarm schools of baitfish such as herring and sardines. Spinning leaps are a part of their feeding strategy. They can often be found right in the middle of huge schools of baitfish feeding in a high-speed manner as they cut through the school snapping their jaws to catch prey.
This spinner shark was discarded on the beach by a careless and wasteful angler.
The average spinner shark is 6 feet long but they can reach lengths of 8 feet. They have small circular eyes.
These sharks do not pose as a threat to human beings. But when spinner sharks are in feeding they become excited by the presence of food so do take precaution.
Spinner sharks can be seen hanging around shrimp trawlers to feed on bycatch. This is when spinner sharks can get excited and quickly enter a feeding frenzy that can be seen from a long distance away.
Spinner sharks are a highly migratory Gulf of Mexico species. They move closer inshore during spring and summer to reproduce and feed.
Spinner sharks are hard to approach even though often visible. They swim away when spear-fishers enter the water.
Unlike other sharks the spinner shark is curious from a distance. Most sharks will enter a chum slick and follow the bait but spinners stay below the other more aggressive sharks picking up scraps.
On several fishing outings I have witnessed these amazing sharks come spinning out of the water without warning. Watching the huge splash they make re-entering the water leaves you shaking your head. Sometimes they will come out of the water two or three times in a row.
Spinner sharks are fun to catch on rod and reel. They make long fast runs, then fly out of the water on the end of your hook spinning circles in the air. They are hard to keep on the line as they shake or straighten the hook unless your tackle is set to specifically target sharks. They are a lot of fun once hooked.
The next time you think you saw a flying torpedo exit the surface of the water, spinning in the air, you can rest assured it was probably just a spinner shark.