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Galapagos Sharks, Carcharhinus galapagensis

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Description & Behavior

Galapagos sharks, Carcharhinus galapagensis (Snodgrass and Heller, 1905), aka grey reef whalers, have a low inter-dorsal ridge present, are dark gray on their dorsal side (top) and white on their ventral side (underneath). Their pectoral fins are solid gray or have slightly dusky tips. This species reaches a maximum length of 3.7 m and max weight of 86 kg.

World Range & Habitat

Galapagos sharks are a common, but habitat-limited, tropical shark found inshore as well as offshore near insular or continental shelves, between 39°N-33°S, at depths up to 180 m. This species prefers clear water with coral and rocky bottoms. Although it is a coastal pelagic species, it is capable of crossing considerable distances of open ocean between islands (at least 50 km). Juveniles are restricted to shallower waters of 25 m or less.

They are circumtropical with a preference for waters around oceanic islands and are found in the eastern Atlantic, western Indian Ocean, and south of Madagascar. They are also found in the western Pacific.

Feeding Behavior (Ecology)

This species tends to feed near the bottom but may take bait from the surface. They feed on bottom fishes and cephalopods. In the Galapagos Islands they also prey on sea lions and even marine iguanas.

Life History

Galapagos sharks are viviparous with a yolk sac placenta. Six to 16 young are born per litter measuring between 60-80 cm. Mating includes distinct pairing with embrace.

Conservation Status & Comments

The Galapagos shark is reported as aggressive and potentially dangerous to people. Another of the requiem (Family Carcharhinidae) sharks that will display a threat posture before it attacks.

The Galápagos shark is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:

A taxon is Near Threatened when it has been evaluated against the criteria but does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable now, but is close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.

References & Further Research

ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research - Slaughter in Paradise

Research Carcharhinus galapagensis » 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

Search for Galapagos Sharks » ARKive ~ ~ Bing ~ dmoz ~ Flickr ~ Google ~ NatureFootage ~ Picsearch ~ Wikipedia ~ Yahoo! Images ~ YouTube

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