Galapagos shark - Carcharhinus galapagensis


Illustration © Marc Dando

A large fairly slender gray shark with a moderately broad rounded snout. The shark has no conspicuous markings on its fins. This species resembles the dusky shark, but it has a taller dorsal fin and a low interdorsal ridge.

Brown gray above, white below. Most fins have dusky tips and the shark has a faint white band on its flank.

Males mature at 5.6 to 7.75 ft [1.7 to 2.36 m] and reach a total length of at least 9.5 ft [2.9 m]. Females mature about 7.7 ft [2.35 m], and reach a total length of more than 9.8 ft [3 m]. The maximum size for this shark may be 12.1 ft [3.7 m].

Triangular serrated slightly oblique teeth in upper jaw, and narrow erect teeth in lower jaw.

Found inshore and offshore (but not pelagic) near or on continental and insular shelves from the surface to at least 590 ft [180 m].



  • Prey – The shark feeds primarily on bottom fishes such as sea bass, flatfish, triggerfish and eels, but it will also feed on flyingfish, octopus, squid, and sometimes consumes garbage.

  • Reproduction – Viviparous, with a yolk-sac placenta. Size at birth ranges from 22 to 32 inches [57 to 80 cm].

The Galapagos shark is aggressive, but it will give way to a Silvertip shark - Carcharhinus albimarginatus. This species is dominant over the Blacktip shark - Carcharhinus limbatus. Like the Grey reef shark - Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos, the Galapagos shark may make a threat display (arched back, raised head, lowered pectoral and caudal fins while swimming in a twisting rolling motion). An attack may follow the threat display.

Danger to humans – this species was reported to have been involved in a few non-fatal incidents. Divers report that the shark is very inquisitive and attempts to sample divers’ swim fins and hands. Aggressive actions taken by divers may startle the shark but it often circles back, bringing more sharks in its wake.