Galapagos Shark, Carcharhinus galapagensis (Snodgrass & Heller 1905)


A Galapagos Whaler, Carcharhinus galapagensis, in the Lord Howe Island region, December 2008. Source: Erik Schlogl / iNaturalist.org. License: CC BY Attribution-NonCommercial

Summary:

Originally described from the Galapagos Islands, this large shark has a slender streamlined body, large first dorsal and pectoral fins and a low ridge along the back between the dorsal fins. The first dorsal fin is very erect with an almost straight leading edge, and originates above the posterior third of the inner pectoral-fin margin. The pectoral fins are long and straight with pointed tips.

These bold and inquisitive sharks are very common around Lord Howe Island, and juveniles are often seen in the lagoon. Large adults can be aggressive and are considered dangerous to humans.


The Galapagos Shark is similar to the Bronze Whaler, Carcharhinus brachyurus, which is not as slender and does not have a very erect first dorsal fin.


Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Carcharhinus galapagensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Nov 2018, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1956

Galapagos Shark, Carcharhinus galapagensis (Snodgrass & Heller 1905)

More Info


Distribution

Found worldwide in tropical and warm temperate waters, especially around oceanic islands and seamounts.

Abundant at Lord Howe Island and Middleton and Elizabeth Reefs in the Tasman Sea, and at Norfolk Island. Also known from coastal waters of northern New South Wales, southern Queensland, and off North West Cape, Western Australia.

Galapagos sharks prefer the clear water and strong currents found around oceanic islands, rocky islets and seamounts. They have been recorded at depths to 285 metres.

At Lord Howe Island, juveniles are commonly seen both inside and outside the lagoon - and are rather bold and inquisitive. Divers often see these small sharks aggregating in loose groups near reef edges late in the day.

Features

The teeth in the upper jaw are long, serrated and broadly triangular although slightly asymmetrical in shape. The finely serrated lower jaw teeth are narrower and symmetrical.

Size

Reaches a maximum length of 3.7 m TL.

Colour

Brownish-grey above, underside white; edges of fins only slightly dusky. Some individuals have an inconspicuous white band along the lower sides.

Feeding

Carnivore, feeding mostly on bottom-dwelling fishes and cephalopods, as well as on crustaceans.

Biology

Galapagos sharks mature slowly (taking about 10 years), and produce relatively few young.

The species is viviparous (live-bearing) and the developing embryos are nourished by a yolk-sac placenta. Litters of 4-16 pups are born at 60-80 cm TL after a 12 month gestation period.

Fisheries

Heavily fished in parts of its range.

Conservation

The Galapagos Shark is considered DATA DEFICIENT on the IUCN in Australia and Oceania (western Pacific Ocean), due to a lack of information on populations in this region.

Remarks

These bold and inqusitive sharks are often attracted to divers, and can become aggressive. The International Shark Attack file records at least two attacks on humans, one of which was fatal.

Similar Species

Differs from the Bronze Whaler, Carcharhinus brachyurus, in having a more slender body and a very erect first dorsal fin with a straight leading edge.

Etymology

Carcharhinus is from the Greek karcharos meaning 'sharpen', and rhinos meaning 'nose' in reference to the pointed snout. The species name galapagensis is from the type locality - the Galapagos Islands.

Species Citation

Carcharias galapagensis Snodgrass & Heller, 1905, J. Wash. Acad. Sci. 6: 343. Type locality: Galápagos Islands.

Author

Dianne J. Bray

Galapagos Shark, Carcharhinus galapagensis (Snodgrass & Heller 1905)

References


Bass, A.J., D’Aubrey, J.D. & Kistnasamy, M. 1973. Sharks of the east coast of southern Africa. 1. The genus Carcharhinus (Carcharhinidae). Investigative Report of the Oceanographic Research Institute, Durban 33.

Bennett, M.B., Gordon, I. & Kyne, P.M. ( SSG Australia & Oceania Regional Workshop, March 2003) 2003. Carcharhinus galapagensis. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 30 January 2012.

Bensley N, Woodhams J, Patterson HM, Rodgers M, McLoughlin K, Stobutzki I, and Begg GA 2009, Shark Assessment Report for the Australian National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks, final report to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra.

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Carcharhiniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125. Rome : FAO Vol. 4(2) 251-655 pp. [473]

Compagno, L.J.V. & Niem, V.H. 1998. Family Carcharhinidae. pp. 1312-1360 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 2 687-1396 pp. [1337]

Compagno, L.J.V., Dando, M. & Fowler, S. 2005. A Field Guide to the Sharks of the World. London : Collins 368 pp. [296]

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2 [157] (Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island)

Garrick, J.A.F. 1982. Sharks of the genus Carcharhinus. National Marine Fisheries Service (U.S.) Technical Report 445: 1-194 figs 1-83 [126]

IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group. Specialist Group website. Available at: http://www.iucnssg.org/.

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls [243]

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia 2, 550 pp. [261]

Martin, R.A. 2007. A review of shark agonistic displays: comparison of display features and implications for shark–human interactions. Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology 40(1): 3–34

Oxley, W.G., Ayling, A.M., Cheal, A.J. & Osborne, K. 2004. Marine surveys undertaken in the Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve, December 2003. Townsville : Australian Institute of Marine Sciences 64 pp. [47]

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp. [11]

Smith, S.E., Au, D.W. & Show, C. 1998. Intrinsic rebound potentials of 26 species of Pacific sharks. Marine and Freshwater Research 49(7): 663–678.

Snodgrass, R.E. & Heller, E. 1905. Papers from the Hopkins-Stanford Galapagos Expedition, 1898-1899. XVII. Shore fishes of the Revillagigedo, Clipperton, Cocos and Galapagos Islands. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 6: 333-427 [343].

van Herwerden, L., Almojil, D. & Choat, H. 2008. Population genetic structure of Australian Galapagos reef sharks Carcharhinus galapagensis at Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve and Lord Howe Island Marine Park. Final report to the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. 45 pp.

Wetherbee, B.M., Crow, G.L. and Lowe, C.G. 1996. Biology of the Galapagos shark, Carcharhinus galapagensis, in Hawai'i. Environmental Biology of Fishes 45: 299-310

Quick Facts


CAAB Code:37018040

Biology:Live-bearer

Conservation:IUCN: Near Threatened

Danger:Can be dangerous to humans

Depth:0-285 metres

Habitat:Oceanic islands, seamounts

Max Size:3.7 metres

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map