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Galapagos shark

Galapagos shark
© Jon Anderson

Common name:

Galapagos shark

Scientific name:

Carcharhinus galapagensis

Spanish name:

Tiburón de Galápagos

Conservation status:

Least Concern


Average size:

3 metres

Maximum size:

3.7 metres

Average weight:

85 kilograms

Maximum weight:

195 kilograms


The Galapagos shark is a species of requiem shark – a family of migratory, live-bearing sharks found in warm waters. Despite its name, the Galapagos shark is found all over the world, but it was first discovered in what is now the Galapagos Marine Reserve. They are quite large for their genus, and have the stereotypically slender, streamlined shark-shaped body. They have 14 rows of serrated teeth that are triangular on the top and sharper on the bottom. Galapagos sharks closely resemble reef sharks and dusky sharks, making them difficult to identify in the field. However their skeletons are very different – the Galapagos shark has 58 vertebrae, whereas dusky sharks have 86-97 vertebrae, and grey reef sharks have 110-119 vertebrae. 

Galapagos sharks eat primarily benthic bony fish, but in Galapagos they also predate fur seals and sea lions. They have also been known to be cannibalistic, so young shark pups tend to stay in shallow inland waters, away from groups of adults. Adult Galapagos sharks are very inquisitive, often showing aggression towards fishermen who try to scare them away. Once they become excited, they are difficult to deter, and when they go into a frenzy they may attack anything floating on the surface of the water. Conversely, they often feel threatened in the presence of divers and some other species of shark, taking on a hunched position. 

Galapagos sharks in Galapagos

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