Blue Shark, Prionace glauca (Linnaeus 1758)


Other Names: Blue Whaler, Blue Whaler Shark, Blue Whalers, Great Blue, Great Blue Shark

A Blue shark, Prionace glauca, in the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary off southern California . Source: Mark Conlin / Southwest Fisheries Science Center, US NOAA Fisheries Service. License: CC by Attribution

Summary:

A large, wide-ranging pelagic shark that seldom comes close to shore. Although Blue sharks are not very aggressive and are rarely encountered, they are potentially dangerous to humans.

Identifying features:

  • Body slender, streamlined, snout very long with a narrowly rounded tip
  • Pectoral fins long and scythe-like  
  • Dark indigo blue above shading to a metallic blue on the sides and white below
  • Upper jaw teeth subtriangular, serrated, slightly longer than wide, angled obliquely outwards
  • Lower jaw teeth narrower, more erect, finely serrate.
  • Rare glimpse of a Blue Shark from a from remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in 290 m depth.

    Great footage of Blue Sharks at the northern California Channel Islands in the 1980s.

    Images and video footage at ARKive


    Cite this page as:
    Dianne J. Bray, Prionace glauca in Fishes of Australia, accessed 22 Aug 2018, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1964

    Blue Shark, Prionace glauca (Linnaeus 1758)

    More Info


    Distribution

    Widespread in Australia, except for the Torres Strait, the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Arafura Sea. Elsewhere found worldwide in all tropical and temperate seas between about 60°N and 50°S.

    Pelagic in the open ocean over continental shelf and slope waters, from the surface to about 350 metres. Blue sharks reportedly prefer water temperatures between 12-20 deg, and usually inhabit deeper waters in the tropics - they seldom come close to land.

    Features

    Vertebrae: 239-253 (precaudal 142-150)
    Jaw teeth (upper): 14 or 15-0 or 1-14 or 15; Jaw teeth (lower): 13 to 15-1-13 to 15.

    Body streamlined, slender; caudal peduncle without lateral keels; upper and lower precaudal pits present. Head conical, snout very long with a narrow, rounded tip (length to mouth 7-10% TL); nostrils not connected to mouth by groove; eyes nearly circular; spiracles absent; very short labial furrows on upper jaw only; teeth of upper jaw subtriangular, somewhat longer than wide, serrated, angled obliquely outward;  teeth of lower jaw narrower, more erect, finely serrate; five gill slits, last above pectoral fin. No interdorsal ridge.

    Two dorsal fins, second much smaller than first, origin of first dorsal set well back behind inner corner of pectoral fin by a distance at least equal to that between first and fifth gill slits; anal fin similar to and about opposite second dorsal; caudal fin heterocercal, upper lobe with subterminal notch, lower lobe well developed. Pectoral fins very long, falcate, their length about equal to distance from snout to fifth gill slit in specimens of medium to large size.

    Size

    To 3.83 m total length.

    Colour

    Dark indigo blue above, shading to metallic blue on the sides and white below.

    Feeding

    Carnivores - feed on small pelagic fishes and cephalopods.

    Biology

    Blue sharks are viviparous, with embryos deriving nutrition through a yolk sac placenta. Females give birth to litters of about 35 pups during spring and summer after a 9-12 month gestation period. The young are born at 35-50 cm TL.

    Blue sharks are relatively fast-growing, and mature between 4–6 years and both sexes mature by about 2.2 m.

    Fisheries

    Of no commercial interest in Australia, although taken by sports fishers.

    Although rarely targetted, Blue Sharks are taken in large numbers as bycatch in  longline and driftnet fisheries, especially on the high seas.

    Australia enacted legislation in 1991 prohibiting Japanese longliners fishing in Australia's EEZ from landing shark fins without the carcass.

    Conservation

  • EPBC Act 1999 : Not listed
  • IUCN Red List : Near Threatened
  • Remarks

    Although Blue sharks are potentially dangerous, they are rarely encountered and are not particularly aggressive.

    Species Citation

    Squalus glaucus Linnaeus, 1758, Syst. Nat., ed. 10: 235, European Ocean.

    Author

    Dianne J. Bray

    Blue Shark, Prionace glauca (Linnaeus 1758)

    References


    Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls [44]

    Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The marine fishes of north-western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Western Australian Museum. 201 pp.

    Bustamante, C. & M.B. Bennett. 2013. Insights into the reproductive biology and fisheries of two commercially exploited species, shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) and blue shark (Prionace glauca), in the south-east Pacific Ocean. Fisheries Research 143: 174-183.

    Cailliet, G.M., Martin, L.K., Harvey, J.T., Kusher, D. & Welden, B.A. 1983. Preliminary studies on the age and growth of blue, Prionace glauca, common thresher, Alopias vulpinus, and shortfin mako, Isurus oxyrinchus, sharks from Californian waters. In: E.D. Prince and L.M. Pulos (eds), Tunas, Billfishes, Sharks. Proceedings of an International Workshop on Age Determination of Oceanic Pelagic Fishes, pp. 179-188. NOAA Technical Report NMFS.

    Casey, J.G. 1985. Transatlantic migrations of the blue shark; a case history of cooperative shark tagging. In: R.H. Stroud (ed.), Proceedings of the First World Angling Conference, Cap d'Agde, France, September 12-18, 1984, pp. 253-267. International Game Fish Association, Florida, USA.

    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. [521]

    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. [1353]

    Fowler, S.L., Cavanagh, R.D., Camhi, M., Burgess, G.H., Cailliet, G.M., Fordham, S.V., Simpfendorfer, C.A. & Musick, J.A. (comps & eds). 2005. Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras: The Status of the Chondrichthyan Fishes. Status Survey. pp. x + 461. IUCN/SSC Shark Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

    Hazin, F.H.V., Couto, A.A., Kihara, K., Otsuka, K., Ishino, M., Boeckman, C.E. & Leal, E.C. 1994. Reproduction of the blue shark Prionace glauca in the south-western equatorial Atlantic Ocean. Fisheries Science 60(5): 487-491.

    Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp. [24, 120]

    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 [263]

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

    Macbeth, W.G., Vandenberg, M. & Graham, K.J. 2008. Identifying Sharks and Rays; a Guide for Commercial Fishers. Sydney : New South Wales Department of Primary Industry 71 pp. [22]

    Nakano, H. 1994. Age, reproduction and migration of blue shark in the North Pacific Ocean. Bulletin of National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries 31: 141-256.

    Pepperell, J. 2010. Fishes of the Open Ocean a Natural History & Illustrated Guide. Sydney : University of New South Wales Press Ltd 266 pp. [208]

    Pratt, H.L. Jr. 1979. Reproduction in the blue shark, Prionace glauca. Fishery Bulletin 77: 445-470.

    Stevens, J.D. 1975. Vertebral rings as a means of age determination in the blue shark (Prionace glauca L.). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 55: 657-665.

    Stevens, J.D. 1984. Biological observations on sharks caught by sports fishermen off New South Wales. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 35: 573-590.

    Stevens, J.D. 1994. Families Carcharhinidae, Triakidae, Scyliorhinidae. pp. 120-138 figs 76-107 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs [126]

    Stevens, J. 2009. Prionace glauca. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 14 September 2011.

    Stevens, J.D. & Wayte, S.E. 1999. A review of Australia's pelagic shark resources. Final Report FRDC project 98/ 107.

    Strasburg, D.W. 1958. Distribution, abundance, and habits of pelagic sharks in the central Pacific Ocean. US Fisheries and Wildlife Service Fishery Bulletin 58(138): 335-361.

    Waite, E.R. 1921. Illustrated catalogue of the fishes of South Australia. Records of the South Australian Museum 2(1): 1-208, 293 figs pl. 1 [12]

    White, W. 2008. Shark Families Heterodontidae to Pristiophoridae. pp. 32-100 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

    Whitley, G.P. 1940. The Fishes of Australia. Part 1. The sharks, rays, devil-fish, and other primitive fishes of Australia and New Zealand. Sydney : Roy. Zool. Soc. N.S.W. 280 pp. 303 figs [106]; Whitley, G.P. 1964. A survey of Australian Ichthyology. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 89(1): 11-127 [33]. (as Carcharhinus mackiei)

    Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & Ward, R.D. (eds) 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook. Hobart : CSIRO Marine Research 460 pp. [53]

    Quick Facts


    CAAB Code:37018004

    Conservation:IUCN Near Threatened

    Danger:Potentially dangerous

    Depth:0-350 m

    Habitat:Pelagic, oceanic

    Max Size:385 cm TL

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