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 Galapagos shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis)

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Galapagos shark
© Doug Perrine / Sea Pics
 Range Map

Earth Map


Phylum: Vertebates (Chordata)

Class: Carlilagenous Fishes (Chondrichthyes)
  Order: Ground sharks (Carcharhiniformes)
    Family: Requiem sharks (Carcharhinidae)
      Genus: Carcharhinus (Carcharhinus)


Scientific: Carcharhinus galapagensis
German: Galapagoshai
English: Galapagos shark
French: Requin des Galapagos
Spanish: Tiburón de Galapagos


Large shark with a moderately long broadly rounded snout. Origin of the first dorsal fin over the mid lengths of inner margins of the pectoral fins. A low interdorsal ridge is present.


Brownish-grey upper body, white ventral surface. The tips of most fins are dusky but not black. An inconspicuous white band on the flanks can be seen.


Contrarily to the name they can be found circumtropical but generally associated with oceanic islands. Western North Atlantic: Bermuda, Virgin Islands and some other Caribbean Islands. Central and Eastern Atlantic: Madeira, possibly of Portugal, Cape Verde, Ascension, St. Helena and Sao Thome Islands. Southwestern Indian Ocean: Madagascar. Western central Pacific: Middleton, Marshall Islands, Tuamoto Archipelago, Hawaiian Islands. E astern Pacific: Galapagos Islands, Cocos Islands, Malpelo Islands, also coasts of southern Baja California, Guatemala and Colombia.


Prefers clear water, coral reefs and rocky bottoms, and often swims a few meters above the substrate. A common but habitat-limited species, occurs in depth of 2 m but ranges to the open ocean adjacent to islands, from the surface to at least 80 m. Juveniles seem to be restricted to shallow waters, 25 m or less, which they apparently use as nursery grounds, while the adults range offshore. They are found in aggregations but apparently do not form co-ordinated schools.


Feeds primarily on bottom living fishes (eel, flatfish, triggerfish). Also feeds on flyingfish and squid, as well as garbage.


Reaching over 300 cm, possibly 370 cm maximum (females).


Viviparous with yolksac-placenta. 6 to 16 pups per litter. Size at birth between 60 and 80 cm. Males mature between 170 and 230 cm, females mature at about 230 cm.

 Similar Species

Close resemblance to the Dusky shark but duskies usually have taller dorsal fins.


Status in the IUCN Red List(Version 2001):

Main criterion: > NT (Near Threatened)
Sub criterion:
Trend: Unknown

 Danger to Humans

Potentially dangerous species. Galapagos sharks perform a "hunch" threat display, with an arched back, raised head, and lowered caudal and pectoral fins, while swimming in a conspicuous twisting, rolling motion.

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