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Galapagos Shark


The Galapagos Shark is also known as grey reef whaler.

Galapagos Shark




    Scientific Name.... Carcharhinus Galapagensis
    Family Name
    ...... Carcharhinidae


  • General Information: The Galapagos shark is a large, requiem shark without any distinctive markings. It looks similar to the gray reef shark and the silvertip shark, except that it lacks their conspicuous white or black coloration on its fins. Its most distinctive feature is a ridge between its dorsal fins, but you would be wise not to get close enough to be able to make it out. They have a fairly long broadly rounded snout, low anterior nasal flaps, fairly large eyes, large semifalcate pectoral fins, moderately large first dorsal with short rear tip originating over pectoral fins inner margin. This shark was named in 1905 after specimens found in the waters of the Galapagos Islands.


  • Size: They reach a maximum size of 12 feet long.


  • Teeth: They have large erect teeth.


  • Color: Their color is a brownish-gray to a dark gray above and white below. There are no conspicuous fin markings but most tip fins are a dusky color and an inconspicuous white band on flank.


  • Feeding Habits: It feeds primarily on bottom-dwelling fish, squid, and octopus.


  • Social Behaviour: The Galapagos shark is found to singly or in aggregations. Inquisitive and sometimes aggressive, performs " hunch" display (arched back, raised head, lowered caudal and pectoral fins, while twisting and rolling) near divers that may be followed by biting.


  • Habitat | Migration | Distribution: The Galapagos shark world-wide mainly found around most tropical oceanic islands, ranging from inshore to well offshore to depths of 596 feet. It prefers clear water, and can be seen beyond the deep reef edge, either near the surface or swimming in groups near the bottom.


  • Life Span: Unknown.


  • Reproduction: They are viviparous, yolk sac placenta, giving birth 6 to 16 young in a litter. The pups remain in the nursery areas, where the water is shallower than the area inhabitated by the adults of the group. This is a not uncommon adaptation of a number of shark species to avoid cannibalism.


  • Galapagos Shark Attacks: Potentially dangerous. The Galapagos shark is generally not a threat to divers, and prefers to avoid them. However, although it has never attacked a diver, it can be aggressive and divers should always be cautious. It performs a seemingly awkward threat display before attacking a potential competitor or predator. It has attacked and eaten swimmers.


  • Population Report: Common or abundant in restricted habitat, but often heavily fished with reports of extirpations of some populations around Central America. Can be a nuisance to divers because of its inquisitiveness, occasionally bites people. Not uncommon in Hawaii, USA, and off Galapagos Islands and Ecuador.

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