Latin name

Galeorhinus galeus

Other names

Snapper shark, soupfin, soupfin shark, tope shark


The genus name comes from the Greek words γαλεός 'shark' and ῥινός 'nose'. Their bodies are slender and their noses are pointed. The mouth is large, arched, with long lip furrows at the corners. The eyes are large, oval, set horizontally, with tiny spiracles behind them. The teeth are flat, with a central point and serrated edges. The nostrils are surrounded by skin folds. There is a large ventral notch at the tip of the upper caudal fin blade. 

Fish colouring

The dorsal colour is bluish to pale grey. The belly is white. Juvenile sharks up to 61 cm in length have black markings on the tips of the dorsal and caudal fins, and the edges of the pectoral fins are white.


They occur worldwide in temperate and subtropical waters at depths of up to 550m from 68°N to 55°S. On the south coast of Australia they are found from Perth, Western Australia, to Morton Bay, Queensland, including Lord Howe Island and Tasmania. Sharks are common in the southwest Atlantic (continental shelf off the southern coasts of Brazil and Patagonia), the northeast Atlantic including the Mediterranean Sea, the northeast Pacific (from British Columbia to Baja California including the Gulf of California, and off the coasts of Peru, Chile), and the South Pacific (coasts of New Zealand and South Africa). In subequatorial African waters, they are found from Namibia to East London. They are absent from the Northwest Atlantic and Northwest Pacific.


They inhabit continental and island shelves, including shallow bays. Sharks can be found inshore and at depths down to 1804 m. They are caught on floating longlines in deep water in the open sea. 


Maximum size 2 m. Maximum size and weight vary considerably between habitats. The largest recorded length (2 m) was a female caught in the Mediterranean, while in the southwest Atlantic the largest shark caught did not exceed 1.48 m in length. The maximum recorded weight is 44.7 kg.


They make long migrations. In some places, small schools of these sharks move to the poles in the summer and to the equator during the cold winter months. They can swim up to 56 kilometres a day. In some habitats there is segregation in shark packs by size and sex. Maximum life expectancy is 60 years, although this may vary depending on habitat and method of assessment.

Food and feeding habits

These fish are fast and active predators. Bony fish such as sardines, herring, salmon, anchovies, smelt, hake, cod, flying fish, mackerel, small tuna, humpback whale, barracuda, guban, pomacentra, gobies, flounder, halibut, scorpionfish and coal fish form the basis of their diet. In addition, soup sharks prey on cephalopods, most commonly squid, molluscs, crustaceans, ringworms, echinoderms, and less commonly small sharks and rays. Juveniles eat more invertebrates than adults.


Reproduces by live birth without placenta. The age and length of time sharks take to reach sexual maturity depends on the habitat. The embryo is nourished only by the egg yolk. Mating takes place in spring. Pregnancy lasts approximately one year. Females give birth in the shallow waters of estuaries and bays. A litter contains from 6 to 52 offspring, with an average of about 35. Newborns are 26 to 40 centimetres long. Males mate annually. In the Mediterranean, females give birth every year, off the coast of Australia every 2 years and off the coast of Brazil every 3 years. This can be explained by the sex segregation of the shoals and the long migrations during which it is more difficult for the sharks to find a mate.


Its meat is highly prized, especially its fins. Listed on the Greenpeace International Seafood Red List.

Relationship with a person

No danger to humans, although one unprovoked non-fatal incident has been recorded.

Phylum Chordata
Class Chondrichthyes
Squad Carcharhiniformes
Family Triakidae
Genus Galeorhinus
Species G. galeus
Conservation status Critically Endangered
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years 60
Maximum body weight, kg 44,7
Maximum length, cm 200
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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