Atlantic Weasel Sharks, Paragaleus pectoralis
Taxonomy Animalia Chordata Elasmobranchii Carcharhiniformes Hemigaleidae Paragaleus pectoralis
Description & Behavior
Atlantic weasel sharks, Paragaleus pectoralis (Garman, 1906), have moderately long snouts and large eyes with nictitating membranes that protect their eyes while hunting prey. They have a short, small mouth with small, serrated upper teeth and erect, cusped lower teeth. This species measures about 1.4 m as adults and are light gray or bronze in color with vertical yellow stripes.
This mid-sized shark species resembles requiem sharks with a slender body and 2 dorsal fins; the first is found in front of the pelvic fins and is larger than the second. The two pectoral fins are long and pointed, and the anal fin is smaller than the second dorsal fin. Atlantic weasel sharks have asymmetric caudal fins (tail fins) with a strong ventral lobe and precadual pits.
World Range & Habitat
The Atlantic weasel shark is a tropical species that inhabits depths up to 100 m. They are found in the eastern Atlantic from Cape Verde and Mauritania to northern Namibia and possibly as far north as Morocco. This species tends to inhabit both inshore and offshore waters around the continental shelf. This is the only weasel shark species in the eastern Atlantic.
Feeding Behavior (Ecology)
Atlantic weasel sharks are unique in that they are not opportunistic feeders. This species specializes in feeding primarily on cephalopods and occasionally on small bony fishes.
Atlantic weasel sharks, Paragaleus pectoralis, have a very low, minimum population doubling time of more than 14 years. This viviparous species gives birth to litters of 1-4 pups that measure 47 cm. Atlantic weasel sharks demonstrate reproductive behavior that includes a distinct pairing with embrace.
Viviparous: embryo develops inside the body of the female from which it gains nourishment.
Population doubling time: the number of years required for the population of a given species to double its present size, given the current rate of population growth, used to measure a specie's resilience to fishing pressure or other environmental stressors.
Conservation Status & Comments
Atlantic weasel sharks, Paragaleus pectoralis, are caught and sold commercially.
References & Further Research
Research Paragaleus pectoralis » Barcode of Life ~ BioOne ~ Biodiversity Heritage Library ~ CITES ~ Cornell Macaulay Library [audio / video] ~ Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) ~ ESA Online Journals ~ FishBase ~ Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department ~ GBIF ~ Google Scholar ~ ITIS ~ IUCN RedList (Threatened Status) ~ Marine Species Identification Portal ~ NCBI (PubMed, GenBank, etc.) ~ Ocean Biogeographic Information System ~ PLOS ~ SIRIS ~ Tree of Life Web Project ~ UNEP-WCMC Species Database ~ WoRMS
Feedback & Citation
Start or join a discussion about this species below or send us an email to report any errors or submit suggestions for this page. We greatly appreciate all feedback!
Help Protect and Restore Ocean Life
Help us protect and restore marine life by supporting our various online community-centered marine conservation projects that are effectively sharing the wonders of the ocean with millions each year around the world, raising a balanced awareness of the increasingly troubling and often very complex marine conservation issues that affect marine life and ourselves directly, providing support to marine conservation groups on the frontlines that are making real differences today, and the scientists, teachers and students involved in the marine life sciences.
With your support, most marine life and their ocean habitats can be protected, if not restored to their former natural levels of biodiversity. We sincerely thank our thousands of members, donors and sponsors, who have decided to get involved and support the MarineBio Conservation Society.