Creature Feature: Galapagos shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis)

Galapagos shark John Turnbull

Photography by John Turnbull

You may recall that we have discussed a few requiem shark species in previous posts. Requiem sharks, such as Bull Sharks, Tiger Sharks and Oceanic Whitetips all belong to the family Carcharhinidae. Carcharhinids are one of the largest groups of sharks and can be found throughout temperate and tropical waters along the continental shelf to the open waters and even fresh water. These sharks are viviparous or ovoviviparous which means that the young are born fully developed. The typical body shape of this family of sharks is the traditional torpedo shape with round eyes. Today we are going to look at another requiem shark, the Galapagos Shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis).

By noting the common name. “Galapagos Shark,” you might have guessed that this species was found in the waters by the Galapagos Islands and can reach 12 feet long. Galapagos sharks have the potential to be super moms, having anywhere from 6-16 pups at a time! This species is hard to distinguish from other Carcharhinids because of the common shape and lack of distinct marks. They might be almost impossible to identify, but for one particular feature. Galapagos sharks have a ridge between their dorsal fins, which are the fins located on the back (it’s the fin that sticks out of the water when they swim!).

Make sure to keep your distance. This shark is highly curious and has been known to bump into boats and paddles. If an unfamiliar subject get too close, this shark can feel threatened and will swim around in a figure-8 formation. This is a warning sign, saying if the perceived threat does not leave, it will attack. Sharks are amazing creatures, but they are best observed at a safe distance.  Give them their space!

Join us next week to learn about a shark with an extreme bite.


Edited by KC O’Shea
Photography: John Turnbull
Tricas, Timothy C., Kevin Deacon, Peter Last, John E. McCosker, Terence I. Walker, Leighton Taylr. A Guide to Sharks & Rays. San Francisco: Fog City Press, 2002. Print.


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