Are There Sharks in Lake Pontchartrain?


Lake Pontchartrain is the second smallest saltwater lake in the country.

It is about 39.77 miles long and 24.23 miles wide.

People mostly come here to swim around the beaches and resorts.

The closest major city is New Orleans, Louisiana.

Lake Pontchartrain is the largest estuary of all time, and it includes a number of microorganisms.

The lake features an interesting ecosystem that houses more than 1 million acres of wetlands and serves as home to hundreds of species of fish, birds, and many other animals.

The lake formed after the last glacial period, about 10,000 years ago.

The river coursing through New Orleans has been known as Bayou St John for over 300 years.

The lake itself is home to more than 500 fish species, which includes black drum fish, red drum fish, speckled trout, spotted seatrout, flounder, blackfish, and many other types of marine life.

The water quality in Lake Pontchartrain continues to be an issue for the people who live around the lake, and it is a major concern for the Louisiana Department of Health.

The water quality has deteriorated due to factors like increased sedimentation, nutrient enrichment, and algae blooms.

The following information will provide an explanation of what types of sharks live in Lake Pontchartrain along with how big they can get.

So… Are There Sharks in Lake Pontchartrain?

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has confirmed that at least one great white shark has been sighted at least twice in Lake Pontchartrain.

It is said the shark sightings were confirmed by two separate sources off the shores near Mandeville on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

Shark Fin
Shark Fin

Shark Species in Lake Pontchartrain

The following list of sharks that has been confirmed to be living in the waters of Lake Pontchartrain:

  • Great White Shark
  • Bull Shark

Lake Pontchartrain has a number of sharks living in it, and they can grow pretty big depending on the species of the shark.

They vary from small ones to large great white sharks that have been known to reach up to 20 feet long.

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If you are ever swimming in Lake Pontchartrain, be careful as there is at least one great white shark that has been confirmed to be living in the lake.

99% of the sharks in this lake are Bull Sharks.

They grow up to 4-5 feet for males and 6+ for females.

A few SHORTFIN Mako Sharks have been known to live in the lake too.

Is it Safe to Swim in Lake Pontchartrain?

Lake Pontchartrain is a somewhat common destination for surfers, swimmers, and others who enjoy being in the lake.

If you are planning to go swimming or surfing in Lake Pontchartrain, it is important to be aware of all of the dangers there can be when in the area.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has confirmed that at least one great white shark has been sighted in the lake on more than one occasion.

Lake Pontchartrain is a known active breeding ground for all of these animals, and it is even possible that Lake Pontchartrain has more shark species living in the area than any other body of water like that in the United States.

When you are taking a swim in Lake Pontchartrain, it is important to be aware of the dangers that are present.

One danger that many people overlook when swimming in the area is the jellyfish.

There have been confirmed reports of large populations of moon jellyfish living in Lake Pontchartrain, which poses a major threat to swimmers.

Jellyfish stings are extremely painful, and swimmers should be aware of the dangers that are present if they have an allergic reaction to bee stings.

One danger that many people overlook when swimming in Lake Pontchartrain is big waves.

It is important to understand the dangers related to swimming during rough weather as it is very dangerous.

Many people drown every year at the lake while caught in a riptide or other similar wave-related activity.

It is also important to consider some of the other dangers that could happen as well, such as boat strikes, getting caught in a riptide, and even getting attacked by alligators if you get too close to the coast.

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Interesting Shark Facts in Lake Pontchartrain

Did you know sharks could live in a lake?

They can, but lakes are generally too small for a large species of shark.

The biggest one that can live in a lake is the Bull Shark.

It can grow up to 6-7 feet in length, but the truth is that it is not very common for them to live in lakes.

Of all of the shark species living in this lake, there is a 100% chance that you will see Bull Sharks.

They grow to about 4-5 feet long in males and 6 + feet in females.

The Bull Sharks are very aggressive, they’re known to attack people in the water, and they have been spotted here on more than one occasion.

In your research, you might find a lot of news stories about Bull Sharks being spotted in lakes all over the world.

It is assured that Bull Sharks can live in a lake, but there are really no sharks that can live in this lake.

Great white sharks have been spotted on multiple occasions, but there is no evidence of them living in the lake, which means they are rare visitors.

Shark head
Shark head

Sharks in Freshwater Vs. Saltwater

Shark species are known to live in both saltwater and freshwater, but the truth is that most of them are found living in saltwater.

The only time a shark is found in freshwater is if it was a baby or a very young/small shark.

They need to maintain a high level of sodium and chloride, which they do by living in saltwater.

If it lived in freshwater, their bodies would absorb too much sodium chloride, which would then cause them to have seizures.

3 Safety Tips for Swiming in Shark-infested Waters

These tips should be followed if you are going to take a swim in shark-infested waters:

Do Not Swim With Cuts or Bruises

Sharks will attack humans if they sense blood, and it does not matter what kind of water the human is in.

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When a human becomes injured, their scent is more potent, which makes the shark want to attack them.

They can smell blood up to half a mile away in the water, so it is important to avoid being injured when going for a swim.

Plus, if you are injured, it may be hard to defend yourself against a shark attack.

Do Not Wear Contrasting Colors

If you go for a swim in an area where sharks are present, it is best to avoid wearing contrasting colors.

Sharks are attracted to bright colors because they look like fish or their prey when viewed from below.

They see reds and oranges as predators.

Do Not Go Swimming in the Ocean With a Gold Ring on Your Finger

There was an experiment performed in Australia where a person swam with two gold rings, one on each hand.

The experiment was done at night so there would not be many people in the water.

A bull shark was attracted to the rings and it attacked him 6 times before he finally got out of the water unharmed.

Shark swimming in a crystal clear water
Shark swimming in a crystal clear water


There is a chance you will see sharks when swimming in Lake Pontchartrain, but not likely.

You can find Bull Sharks there and they are very aggressive when they are in the water.

Bull sharks are able to live in freshwater because it is too small for other types of sharks, but there are no records of these types of sharks living in Lake Pontchartrain.

The most aggressive type of shark that will live there is the Bull Shark, but they are rare.

If you are going to swim in Lake Pontchartrain, it is important to be aware of the safety precautions.

The most important things to remember are – not to swim with cuts or bruises, and to avoid wearing high-contrasting colors.

Be aware of riptides and jellyfish as well.


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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>