Conservation Status: Least Concern
Scientific Name: Carcharhinus galapagensis
One of the largest members of the Requiem shark family, the Galapagos Shark is often spotted when snorkeling and diving at the Galapagos Islands. Despite their scary appearance and considerable size, they are very rarely aggressive, and often curious and inquisitive with humans.
Requiem sharks are the largest shark family in the ocean, including hundreds of other species such as the Tiger shark, Reef sharks, and Dusty shark, which share a common bond with the Galapagos Shark. Their body shape is like the classic shark that most of us imagine from movies: sleek & streamlined, with a large dorsel fin, rounded snout, and 14 rows of sharply serrated teeth. An adult Galapagos Shark can grow up 3m in length, weighing aproximately 200 pounds.
When to See Them: All year round. Mating season is from January to March, so small pups may appear in the shallows across the archipelago in April / May.
Galapagos sharks like clean reef waters, and are most usually seen at depths of 100m or more. They can be found in large numbers to the far north-west of the Galapagos Marine Reserve, an area that is only accessible on a specialist Galapagos Dive Cruise. You may also spot them in smaller numbers at day dive sites around Santa Cruz Island, such as Gordon Rocks, Beagle, Daphne or Guy Fawkes, although sightings are never guaranteed.
They are viviparous, meaning that eggs hatch inside the female, and pups are born with already formed bodies, ready to swim. After a gestation period of around 12 months, a litter of 4–16 pups is born. Juvenile sharks are immediately independent and feed themselves, staying in the shallows until big and strong enough to brave the open waters. If lucky you may see a Galapagos Shark pup in the shallow waters during island visits or while snorkelling.
What do Galapagos sharks eat? They prefer bottom-dwelling bony fish, crustaceans and mollusks, but at the Galapagos Islands they also hunt Fur Seal, Sea Lions, and sometimes Marine Iguanas. Adults may also occasionally be cannibalistic, eating young shark pups through hunger.
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