School Shark, Galeorhinus galeus (Linnaeus 1758)

Other Names: Snapper Shark, Soupfin Shark, Tope, Tope Shark

A School Shark, Galeorhinus galeus, at The North Sea Oceanarium. Source: Jens Christian Schou / Biopix (via EOL). License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial

A slender slate grey to bronze shark with a pale belly, plain fins and the underside of the head near the snout tip often translucent. The species has a very large sub-terminal lobe on the caudal fin (giving it a 'double-tailed' appearance) and a small second dorsal fin.

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Bray, D.J. 2024, Galeorhinus galeus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 Jul 2024,

School Shark, Galeorhinus galeus (Linnaeus 1758)

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Recorded in Australia from Moreton Bay (Qld) to Perth (WA), including Tasmania and Lord Howe Island. Elsewhere in temperate waters of eastern North Atlantic, western South Atlantic, eastern North and South Pacific, off South Africa, New Zealand. 

Elsewhere the species is bentho-pelagic in temperate waters of most oceans: across the Northeast, Eastern Central, Southwest, and Southeast Atlantic, the Mediterranean Sea, the Eastern Indian, and across the Pacific (except in the Northwest Pacific). 
Inhabits continental shelves and upper to mid slopes from shallow inshore waters to well offshore at depths to 826 m, though most frequently above 200 m. 
Juveniles are often found in shallow, inshore bays of Victoria and Tasmania. School Sharks also occur well offshore in the Tasman Sea. Although usually found near the bottom, the species ranges through the water column even into the pelagic zone.


Vertebrae (precaudal) 79, (total) 127. 
Body streamlined, slightly elongate; caudal peduncle without keels or precaudal pits. Head conical; snout relatively long and pointed; eyes oval; nictitating membrane internal in adults but transitional in juveniles; spiracles small; upper labial furrows moderately long, longer than lower; teeth in both jaws of similar shape and size, each with an outwardly oblique central cusp bearing three to five coarse serrations on its outer margin; five small gill slits, last two above pectoral fin. 
Interdorsal ridge usually absent. Two dorsal fins, second considerably smaller than first, origin of first behind inner corner of pectoral fin but closer to origin of pectoral than ventral fins, origin of second dorsal slightly in advance of anal-fin origin; caudal fin heterocercal, wide sub-terminal section to upper lobe with deep sub-terminal notch, distal flap expanded giving a characteristic 'double tailed' appearance, lower lobe prominent. Pectoral fins of moderate size, angular, hind margin slightly concave.


Feeds on bony fishes (bottom-dwelling and pelagic species), squid and octopus. Small juveniles feed on crustaceans, polychaete worms, gastropods and echinoderms.


A very long-lived species and tagging studies reveal that this species can live to at least 55 years. Age at maturity is 8 to 10 for males and 10 to 15 for females. 
Reproduction is aplacental viviparity (ovoviviparity) with litters of 15-43 (mean = 28) young. Males mature at 120 cm TL at 8 years of age, and females at 130 cm TL at 10 years of age. The pups are born 28-35 cm TL after a 12 month gestation. Research from New Zealand found that School Shark litters may have multiple sires - presumably because females can potentially store sperm for long periods of time after the mating season. 


Fished throughout its range and heavily exploited. The flesh is excellent eating.


Genetic analyses indicate that there are up to six isolated School Shark subpopulations around the world that should be managed as distinct, independent stocks.


The specific name is derived from the Greek galeos (= small shark, dogfish).

Species Citation

Squalus galeus Linnaeus, 1758, Syst. Nat. Ed. 10: 234. Type locality: European Ocean.


Bray, D.J. 2024


Atlas of Living Australia

School Shark, Galeorhinus galeus (Linnaeus 1758)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37017008


Conservation:IUCN Critically Endangered

Depth:2-826 m

Fishing:Commercial, gamefish, aquarium

Max Size:220 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map