What Is a Group of Sharks Called? (4 Common Terms)

A group of sharks under the ocean

Sharks have the reputation of being fearsome creatures, especially with their characteristic fins and sharp teeth. Yet, these intelligent creatures are social beings, forming groups when migrating, hunting, or mating.

However, do you have an idea what to call a group of sharks? Let’s explore in detail how they are normally called and the reason for such names. Let us also touch on what baby sharks and their groups are called.

What Is a Group of Sharks Called?

A shiver of sharks swim by the camera

The most popular term used to describe a group of sharks is “shiver.” However, they also go by other common names, such as “school,” “herd,” or “frenzy,” depending on their situation or activity as a group.

Other less common collective terms for a group of sharks are “gam,” “shoal,” “grind,” “fleet,” and “college.”

With over 400 species of sharks, these communal terms usually reflect their behavior when they are in groups. To understand this better, let us check out the four most common names and the reasons they are called as such.

  • A shiver of sharks: This term is most commonly used to describe a smaller group of sharks of the same gender. These are usually just about 2 to 3 that congregate for a particular purpose, like mating. The term is derived from how our body naturally reacts when we encounter sharks — we might start to shake or shiver.
  • A school of sharks: This describes groups of sharks living in the ocean. A school of sharks can be a few or hundreds of male and female sharks that come together for feeding, mating, and other social reasons. In schools, younger sharks stay in the middle for safety. Sharks in schools also communicate well, which helps them stay away from danger.
  • A herd of sharks: Although not commonly used as the others, this term refers to a large group of sharks. The idea comes from comparing their size to a herd of large animals like cows or zebras. Sharks’ social behavior also plays a part in using this term.
  • A frenzy of sharks: When sharks are extremely active, especially during feeding, they are described as being in a frenzy. They become noisy, and this term captures the intense and chaotic nature of their feeding habits. This is often associated with the phrase “feeding frenzy.”

From the shiver of sharks, which is often a reaction to fear, to the organized and cooperative school of sharks, each term helps us better understand and describe the complex social structures of these amazing sea creatures.

Fun Fact: Despite the powerful stance of sharks that their group names describe, they are classified as Chondrichthyes. Like rays and chimaeras, their skeletons are made of flexible cartilage and not of bones.

Other Collective Nouns Used to Describe Sharks

Tropical island seascape with several sharks underwater

Aside from the ones indicated above, there are other less common terms used to describe a group of sharks that often refer to the fear and awe they evoke when they are seen moving together.

Here is a comprehensive list of accepted collective nouns used for a group of sharks swimming together:

  • Army
  • Assembly
  • Bait
  • Battery
  • Cloud
  • Cluster
  • Crew
  • Depth
  • Dive
  • Drift
  • Fleet
  • Formation
  • Gathering
  • Group
  • Hobble
  • Hunt
  • Jaws
  • Legion
  • Ocean
  • Pack
  • Parade
  • Passel
  • Plunge
  • Prowl
  • Pursuit
  • Realm
  • Reckoning
  • Rumble
  • Run
  • Shadow
  • Shoal
  • Shrewdness
  • Sleuth
  • Squadron
  • Stream
  • Surge
  • Swarm
  • Threatening
  • Tide
  • Wave

Regardless of what you call these powerful sea creatures, these words are all striking and powerful terms that describe how strong sharks are, more so when they congregate to do their daily activities.

Fun Fact: Some of these group names like “fleet” refer to the speed of sharks. This is more appropriate for some speedy species that are part of the ten fastest sea animals, like the blue shark. 

How Many Sharks Are in a Group?

Group of sharks swim close together

While some terms such as “shiver” refer to only about 2 to 3 sharks in a group, most terms like “school,” “herd,” or “shoal” refer to large groups of sharks coming together, reaching hundreds of them.

Some of the reasons these sharks congregate in large numbers include feeding, hunting, mating, birthing, or migrating.

One of my most memorable marine explorations was also related to a group of sharks — whale sharks that is. 

I was privileged to join a group of other adventurers as we experienced the “Afuera” while snorkeling off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. I was in awe as I saw a herd of whale sharks feeding on a large mass of fish eggs.

These sharks numbered in the hundreds but unlike the fearsome terms describing groups of sharks, they were very gentle.

Meanwhile, watch this amazing video of a school of hammerhead sharks gathering to mate:

Hammerhead Sharks' Complex Mating Rituals | BBC Earth

What Were Sharks Originally Called?

In the past, sailors who saw sharks called these formidable creatures “sea dogs.” This name came from their long snouts, sharp teeth, and keen sense of smell, traits that reminded sailors of dogs.

Another old name for sharks was ‘schurk,’ a Dutch word meaning ‘villain.’ Sailors used this term because sharks seemed to terrorize other ocean creatures with their fierce behavior. 

This name reflects the fear and respect these large sea animals evoke in people. The term ‘sea dogs’ was popular among English speakers, especially after writer Richard Hakluyt used “sharke” to describe a sea dog in 1599.

Over time, many shark species have evolved, each with its own unique characteristics and name. However, ‘sea dog’ remained a common term into the 18th and 19th centuries.

In the 20th century, the scientific community began referring to sharks by their scientific name, Selachimorpha. This shift marked a change in how we understand and appreciate these incredible ocean dwellers.

What Is a Baby Shark Called?

A baby shark is commonly known as a “pup.” Shark pups are born fully formed and ready for an independent life. Despite their small size compared to adult sharks, some can grow up to three feet in their first year.

This rapid growth is essential for their survival, especially as they navigate dangers like larger predators. They are also equipped with innate survival skills, allowing them to hunt and fend for themselves.

Fun Fact: Sharks have three ways of giving birth: ovoviviparity, oviparity, and viviparity. No matter which method is used, though, the newborn is called a pup.

What Is a Group of Baby Sharks Called? 

Group of baby sharks swimming in transparent sea water

A group of baby sharks is known as a “wriggle” or a “nursery.” These terms describe the collective movement and living space of these young sharks. 

In a wriggle, hundreds or even thousands of baby sharks, also called ‘puppies,’ group together.

The preferred habitats for these nurseries are coastal areas, estuaries, and seamounts. These regions offer warm, shallow waters abundant with food, making them ideal for the growth and development of shark puppies. 

Here, they can safely grow and learn the skills needed to become formidable adult sharks.

Fun Fact: These nurseries are fascinating to observe. Young sharks, with their instinctive survival skills, often swim in single-file lines, especially when exploring deeper parts of the ocean. 

This behavior shows their innate ability to adapt and survive from a very young age.

Indeed, the remarkable intelligence and power of sharks are a testament to what their groups are called. Do you have other interesting facts to share or questions to ask about shark groups? Let us know in the comments!

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