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.

This active strong swimming shark which, together with the Gummy Shark, Mustelus antarcticus, is the most important species in the southern Australian commercial fishery.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Galeorhinus galeus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 22 Sep 2023,

School Shark, Galeorhinus galeus (Linnaeus 1758)

More Info


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. 

A widespread mainly coastal and bottom associated shark found in temperate areas over the continental shelf to about 800 m on the continental slope. 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.


Meristic features: Vert. (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.


The genetic analyses of Chabot (2015) indicatethat School Shark populations around the world are isolated and should be managed as distinct, independent stocks.


Galeorhinus is derived from the Greek galeos meaning a 'shark' and rhinos meaning 'nose'.

Species Citation

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


Dianne J. Bray

School Shark, Galeorhinus galeus (Linnaeus 1758)


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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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37017008


Conservation:IUCN Vulnerable

Depth:2-600 m

Fishing:Commercial, gamefish, aquarium

Max Size:220 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map