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


A large dark shark with an indigo blue back shading to metallic blue on the sides and white below. Blue Sharks are slender and streamlined with a long snout and long scythe-like pectoral fins. Although Blue sharks are not very aggressive and are rarely encountered, they are potentially dangerous to humans.

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.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Prionace glauca in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jul 2024,

Blue Shark, Prionace glauca (Linnaeus 1758)

More Info


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

The species is generally pelagic in oceanic waters over the continental shelf and slope, from the surface to about 1000 metres. Blue sharks reportedly prefer water temperatures between 12-20 deg, and usually inhabit deeper waters in the tropics. They may enter inshore waters in areas where the continental shelf is narrow.


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.


To 3.83 m total length.


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


Feeds mostly on small pelagic fishes and cephalopod molluscs.


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.


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

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


  • IUCN Red List : Near Threatened
  • Remarks

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


    The specific name is from the Latin glaucus (= bluish-green or bluish-grey), in reference to the colour of this species.

    Species Citation

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


    Bray, D.J. 2023


    Atlas of Living Australia

    Blue Shark, Prionace glauca (Linnaeus 1758)


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

    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.

    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. 

    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.

    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.

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

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

    Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundem classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentis, synonymis, locis. Editio decima, reformata. Holmiae : Laurentii Salvii Vol. 1 10, 824 pp. See ref at BHL

    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.

    Ovenden, J., Kashiwagi, T., Broderick, D., et al. 2009. The extent of population genetic subdivision differs among four co-distributed shark species in the Indo-Australian archipelago. BMC Evolutionary Biology 9: 40.

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

    Phillipps, W.J. 1935. Sharks of New Zealand: No. 4. New Zealand Journal of Science and Technology 16(4): 236-241 figs 1-3 (described as Prionace mackiei, type locality Wellington, New Zealand)

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

    Rigby, C.L., Barreto, R., Carlson, J., Fernando, D., Fordham, S., Francis, M.P., Herman, K., Jabado, R.W., Liu, K.M., Marshall, A., Pacoureau, N., Romanov, E., Sherley, R.B. & Winker, H. 2019. Prionace glauca. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T39381A2915850. Accessed on 29 June 2023.

    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

    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 (as Prionace glaucum)

    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 (as Carcharhinus mackiei)

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

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37018004

    Conservation:IUCN Near Threatened

    Danger:Potentially dangerous

    Depth:0-1000 m

    Max Size:385 cm TL

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