Soupfin Shark
Galeorhinus galeus

Physical Description

  • The Soupfin shark is a small, slender-bodied shark with an elongated snout. 
  • Dark gray coloration on the back and white on the belly
  • They have a large lobe on the top of their tails
  • The second dorsal, or back, fin is very small and triangular
  • Mature sharks range from 53 to 69 inches for males and 59 to 77 inches for females

Range

  • The Northeast Pacific where it occurs between British Columbia and Baja California
  • In the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea
  • Also occurs around the eastern coast of Africa and around most of southern South America
  • It also occurs round the southern coasts of Australia, including Tasmania, and New Zealand

Habitat

  • It is found mainly near the seabed around coasts in temperate waters
  • Near bays and canyons
  • Down to depths of approximately 2,600 feet

Diet

  • Sardines, midshipmen, flatfish, rockfish, octopus, and squid
  • Crab, shrimp, lobster, worms, starfish and sea urchins
  • Prey is both pelagic and benthic

Predators

  • The meat and fins of the Soupfin shark is considered a delicacy, especially in sharkfin soup
  • Great white sharks, sevengill sharks, and larger marine mammals

Interesting Facts

  • Though these sharks are often called soupfin sharks because of their overfishing in the sharkfin soup industry, their more accurate name is Tope sharks, School sharks, or flake sharks. They are also called vitamin sharks, because their livers contain an oil rich in vitamin A, and they were also overfished for the vitamin industry! 
  • Soupfin sharks are highly threatened due to the sharkfin soup industry. It is important to save sharks by not eating sharkfin soup or any shark products! 
  • Soupfin sharks are known to separate by gender. The males are often from northern California to British Columbia, the females are in southern California, and they mix in central California. 

Sources: Monterey Bay Aquarium; California Sea Grant; IUCN Red List; Department of Fish and Game Fish Bulletin Number 64

Photo: Walter Heim

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