The Galapagos shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis), is a species of requiem shark that was first named in 1905 after specimens were found in the seas around the Galapagos Islands. The requiem sharks are members of the Carcharhinidae family that includes some of the best-known and most common types of sharks.
Galapagos and white tipped reef sharks have rounded snouts and are more common throughout Galapagos than the other species.
The Galapagos shark is dark grey on top with an off-white belly and a black tail edge. Their maximum length as adults is 3 metres (10 feet). They measure around 57 to 80 centimetres at birth.
The Galapagos shark can also be found in warm tropical waters at depths ranging from 16 to 200 feet (5 to 60 metres). There is a ridge running between the dorsal fins (the fins on the shark’s back).
Although the Galapagos shark is known to occur around the world, it is commonly encountered where it was first recorded at the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. These sharks are often observed on Gordon Rocks off the North coast of Santa Cruz.
The teeth in the upper jaw of this shark are serrated and triangular. Teeth in the lower jaw are narrower.
Galapagos sharks are benthic feeders, meaning they hunt prey from the sea floor, such as fish and octopuses. Adult Galapagos sharks are also indulge in cannibalism, feeding on their own young if encountered.
The Galapagos shark is known to exhibit a threat display of head swinging and exaggerated swimming. They are often found in loose aggregations.
Galapagos sharks are pelagic (live in open oceans) at depths ranging from 16 – 200 feet (5 – 60 metres). They usually swims in schools. Galapagos sharks are aggressive sharks, there have been reports of attacks on people.
Reproduction of the Galapagos shark is viviparous (the embryo develops inside the body of the mother, as opposed to outside in an egg). At birth the 6 to 16 pups are about 22 – 32 inches (57 – 80 centimetres) long. when they are very young, these pups stay in shallow waters away from adult Galapagos sharks, therefore avoiding cannibalism (being eaten by other members of their species).