The sandbar shark is an inshore fish and a good light-tackle fighter, growing usually to between 5 and 7 feet long. A relatively heavy-bodied fish, it is dark bluish-gray to brownishgray and has a pale or white belly.
There is a distinct ridge on the back between the first and the second dorsal fins, and the first fin is large and pointed, starting over the middle of the pectoral fin. Its snout is shorter than the width of its mouth, appearing rounded from below.
Sandbar and dusky (Carcharhinus obscurus) sharks are coastal migrants that have taken a particularly hard hit from longlining for both their fins and their flesh.
Sandbars are usually called browns by anglers along the east coast of the United States, where they commonly migrate into large bays to spawn. Although basically ground sharks, they are extremely strong fighters. The dusky is almost indistinguishable from the sandbar but grows to more than 700 pounds; the sandbar never exceeds much more than 200 pounds.
Very common along the coast of the Middle Atlantic states, sandbars extend in the western Atlantic from southern Massachusetts to southern Brazil. In the eastern Pacific, they occur around the Hawaiian, Galápagos, and Revillagigedo Islands.