Are Sharks Edible? A Better Sustainable Consumption Guide

Shark meat, often overlooked due to misconceptions, offers a range of delicious options like Mako, Thresher, Blacktip, Dogfish, and Blue sharks, each with unique flavors and textures suitable for various dishes.

edible sharks Are Sharks Edible? A Better Sustainable Consumption Guide

Are you curious about trying something new for dinner? How about a delicious meal made from edible sharks? 

Many people hesitate to eat sharks because of their reputation as fierce predators, but not all sharks are dangerous or endangered. Wait…are sharks edible? Well – several species of sharks are considered not only edible, but also sustainable and safe for consumption.

Before you turn your nose up, consider this: shark meat is a popular delicacy in many countries and is known for its unique texture and flavor. 

In this article, we’ll explore five types of sharks that are safe and enjoyable to eat.

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Mako Shark

Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) in Baja California, Mexico

Mako sharks are prized game fish that are also a delicious seafood option. 

Their meat is lean, tender, and moist, with a mild flavor that is often compared to swordfish. 

Mako shark meat is versatile and can be used in various dishes, such as fish tacos, ceviche, and grilled shark steaks. 

To prepare mako shark, marinate the meat for a few hours to enhance its flavor, then grill it to perfection.

Thresher Shark

Thresher Shark swimming in the Sea of the Philippines

Thresher sharks have a unique elongated upper lobe of their tail fin, and their meat is equally distinctive. 

Thresher shark meat has a delicate, slightly sweet flavor and a firm texture, making it perfect for grilling, baking, or frying. 

Thresher shark meat is commonly served as fish and chips, grilled shark skewers, and shark steak sandwiches. 

Season the edible sharks with a mix of spices, herbs, and lemon juice to bring out its flavor before cooking.

Blacktip Shark

Blacktip Shark Are Sharks Edible? A Better Sustainable Consumption Guide
Blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus).

Blacktip sharks are a smaller species with a mild, slightly sweet flavor and firm, white flesh similar to swordfish. 

Blacktip shark meat is commonly used in fish stews, fish soups, and shark kebabs. 

To prepare blacktip shark, it’s best to marinate it for a few hours in a mixture of oil, vinegar, and your favorite spices before cooking. That will help tenderize the meat and enhance its flavor.

Dogfish Shark

Dogfish Shark Are Sharks Edible? A Better Sustainable Consumption Guide
A spiny dogfish patroling the the cold waters of Puget Sound

Dogfish sharks, also known as spiny dogfish, have a sweet, nutty flavor and a firm, flaky texture that is perfect for deep frying. 

Dogfish shark meat is commonly used in fish and chips, as well as seafood stews, chowders, and curries. 

To prepare dogfish shark, dip the meat in a batter of flour, cornmeal, and spices, then deep fry until crispy and golden.

Blue Shark

Blue Shark Are Sharks Edible? A Better Sustainable Consumption Guide

Blue sharks are a large, deep-water species with a mild flavor and a tender, moist texture.

Blue shark meat is commonly used in burgers, fish pies, and grilled shark steaks. 

To prepare blue shark, marinate the meat for a few hours in a mixture of oil, lemon juice, and garlic, then grill or broil until cooked through.

So while eating shark meat may not be for everyone, many types of sharks are safe and enjoyable to eat. By trying different types of shark meat, you can expand your culinary horizons and experience new flavors and textures. Plus, by choosing sustainable and responsible sources, you can enjoy your meal without contributing to overfishing or endangering species.


Some people enjoy it as a delicacy, while others avoid it due to health concerns or ethical reasons. For those reasons, there are usually some questions people need answered before venturing into this food choice.

This FAQ section will address some pressing questions you might still have about edible sharks.

What is the best shark to eat?

There are hundreds of species of sharks, but only a few of them are usually consumed as food. 

The most popular species for consumption are the blacktip shark, the mako shark, and the dogfish shark. These sharks are known for their mild flavor and firm texture, making them popular choices for seafood dishes.

Why is shark meat not edible?

The meat of some sharks can be toxic to humans due to high levels of mercury and other heavy metals. 

Sharks are also apex predators, which means they sit at the very top of the aquatic food chain and can accumulate high levels of toxins in their bodies from consuming other fish and animals. 

Is shark meat good to eat?

The nutritional value of shark meat is similar to other types of seafood, as it is a great source of protein and fatty acids. 

However, due to the high levels of mercury and other toxins, shark meat consumption is not recommended for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children. Moreover, the overfishing of sharks has led to a decline in their populations. Ensuring you choose a sustainable species is important for the environment. 

Is it legal to eat sharks?

The legality of eating sharks depends on the species and the country. 

In many countries, including the United States, eating certain species of sharks is legal. However, some species are protected under international law, such as the great white shark, whale shark, and basking shark.

What is the best shark to eat?

The best shark to eat is considered to be the Mako Shark due to its dense and meaty flesh, which makes it highly versatile. It has a medium full flavor and is low in fat. Mako meat is slightly darker and moister compared to Swordfish.

Are black tip sharks good to eat?

Black tip sharks are good to eat as they are one of the most commonly consumed sharks in the United States. They are known for their mild flavor, firm texture, and white meat. Blacktip shark is often prepared by grilling, frying, or used in dishes such as shark tacos.

What does mako shark taste like?

Mako shark has a taste that is often likened to swordfish, but with a sweeter flavor. It is recommended to marinate the steaks for at least an hour before grilling or broiling them.

Does shark taste like fish or meat?

Shark meat can taste like either fish or meat, depending on personal preference. It has a meaty and mild flavor, similar to chicken, but some may describe it as tasting like roadkill. Before consumption, it is important to thoroughly soak shark meat due to the fact that sharks urinate through their skin.

Is eating shark illegal in the US?

Eating shark is not illegal in the US, but the consumption of shark fins is prohibited. Shark fins are highly sought after in certain Asian cultures, particularly in Chinese cuisine, where they are commonly used to make shark fin soup. However, it is important to note that while consuming shark meat is allowed in the United States, the same does not apply to shark fins.

Is nurse shark good to eat?

Nurse shark is not recommended for consumption due to its high mercury levels, as stated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Seafood Selector.” Eating nurse sharks can pose serious health risks, and it is advisable to avoid consuming this particular species of shark.

Why does shark meat have mercury?

Shark meat contains mercury due to the shark’s position as a top predator in marine ecosystems, which leads to the accumulation of heavy metals, including mercury. This accumulation can pose a risk to humans when they consume shark meat [8,9].

Why is shark meat not eaten?

Shark meat is not consumed due to its high levels of toxic chemicals and heavy metals, which accumulate over time through the process of bioaccumulation.

Why does shark meat smell so bad?

Shark meat smells bad because when sharks are killed and left out of the water, decomposition occurs and results in the production of high amounts of ammonia. As the shark dies, the urea breaks down into ammonia, causing the meat to have an ammonia-like taste and smell.

Is it illegal to eat shark?

It is not illegal to eat shark, but certain methods of obtaining shark fins are prohibited. The main method, known as finning, involves catching sharks, removing their fins, and discarding the rest of the body back into the water.

How do you prepare a shark for eating?

The process of preparing a shark for eating involves placing the shark steaks in a shallow dish and covering them with milk. After letting them stand for 2 hours or refrigerating overnight, the next step is to prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Remove the shark steaks from the dish and pat them dry before grilling them for about 15 minutes, turning once, until the meat is firm.

Will a bull shark bite you?

A bull shark may bite you due to its aggressive tendencies, as they are often regarded as the most dangerous sharks to humans. The majority of shark attacks in waters around the world can be attributed to three shark species: the great white shark, the tiger shark, and the bull shark. These three sharks have gained a reputation for unprovoked attacks on humans.

Are bull sharks high in mercury?

Bull sharks contain higher levels of mercury as they grow larger, with some small sharks having mercury levels comparable to those found in larger sharks.

Is it legal to catch bull sharks in Louisiana?

It is legal to catch bull sharks in Louisiana, as announced by officials from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The daily possession limit for commercially harvested large coastal sharks, including bull sharks, has been established.

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