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, 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 10 Jun 2023,

    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 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.


    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.


    Carnivores - feed on small pelagic fishes and cephalopods.


    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 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.


  • 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.


    Dianne J. Bray

    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 [44]

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    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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