Updated: Oct 21, 2022
The Galapagos shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis) is one of the larger species of requiem sharks with an average lenght of 3.5meters. The appearance of the Galapagos shark is quite similar to reef sharks and dusky sharks which makes it difficult to spot the differences and to identify the Galapagos shark. Galapagos sharks can be found worldwide in small isolated spots surrounding oceanic islands. The largest concentration of Galapagos sharks can be found around the Galapagos Islands, where this species of sharks is abundant.
Anatomy and appearance of Galapagos sharks
The Galapagos Shark can grow an average of approximately 3.5 meters and they weigh about 190 kg. Coloration is brownish grey above and white below with faint white stripes on the sides. An identifying feature of the Galapagos Shark is its slender, streamlined body. They have a large first dorsal fin, which is falcate with a rounded tip. The dorsal fin originates over the rear tips of the pectoral fins, which are also large with pointed tips. It has a wide and rounded snout and the upper and lower jaws contain 14 rows of serrated teeth on either side, plus one tooth at the symphysis. Upper teeth are broad and triangular, whereas lower teeth are narrow.
Habitat of Galapagos sharks
Galapagos sharks are found over shelves near the coast in warm and temperate waters. They prefer rugged reef habitats with converging currents and are known for grouping together around rocky islets with clear water. Adults have been reported at depths of 180m, whereas juveniles only venture to depths of 25 meters. Although it is a coastal pelagic species, Galapagos sharks have been known to cross the ocean with sightings 50 kilometers from land.
Source: By Chris_huh - Compagno, Leonard; Dando, Marc & Fowler, Sarah (2005). Sharks of the World. Collins Field Guides. ISBN 0-00-713610-2., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2828213
Diet of Galapagos sharks
Galapagos sharks are often encountered in large groups. They are active, apex predators who feed mainly on bottom-feeding bony fish and occasionally eat cephalopods. Larger Galapagos sharks have a much more varied diet, consuming other sharks, marine iguanas, sea lions, and occasionally seabirds.