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The Powerful Galapagos Sharks

Potentially lethal to humans, the Galapagos shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis) is a shark that demands respect.

Considered to be near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Galapagos shark is a species that is powerful, but fragile. This incredible example of aquatic dominance is something special for divers that love the beauty of the shark. Luckily this impressive animal is seen globally, though the Galapagos Islands are one of the favorite places for divers to witness their omni-presence. Other incredible places to witness these kings of the sea include Bermuda, the Virgin Islands, and Cape Verde. Additionally they are seen frequently in the Indian Ocean, especially in the Madagascar region as well as the Pacific Ocean, especially around the Hawaiian Islands. They have also been known to frequent areas like the regions of Mexico like the Baja Peninsula as well as places like Colombia and Eastern Australia. As far as the quality of their surroundings, the Galapagos shark goes for continental shelves, rugged reefs and water with intense clarity.

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The Galapagos shark absolutely loves crystal clear water and flourishing reef environments. Known to frequent shallower water due to their liking for bony bottom-dweller fish, they can also spend time in the deep sea as adults. They also appreciate the nourishing environment that surrounds ocean islands, making it a frequent place to see them. For food they enjoying many different aspects to the circle of oceanic life. From other sharks to marine iguanas, from sea lions to octopus, the Galapagos shark is not picky on what it eats.

galapagos2-credits-Doug_Perrine.jpgA relatively large species of shark, coming in at nearly ten feet long and 200 pounds, the Galapagos shark is very reminiscent of other sharks in looks. Such species as the grey reef shark, oceanic whitetip, and the dusk shark are visually long lost family members. When seen in the big wide ocean it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between the four. Although all have the basic characteristics of the “reef shark” look, there are some varying characteristics. For example, the Galapagos shark has a tall dorsal fin that is rounded a bit on top. The dorsal fin also begins over the back tips of the pectoral fins. Their coloring is a bit different as well, being brownish grey on the upper part of the body with barely-visible white stripping on the underbelly. The edging of the fins can also be slightly darker in hue as well. Another variation is that their teeth are larger, too, but that is something no one wants to know intimately. Last but not least, the ending tail vertebrae of the Galapagos shark is shorter than that of its cousins the dusky, whitetip, and grey reef shark.galapagos3-credits-Doug_Perrine.jpg

When it comes to having babies, the Galapagos sharks are slowpokes. It can take up to a year of courtship before a mom is impregnated. Mating starts from January to March, with the mother going to shallower water to have her litter of four to fifteen pups. Babies are born free to swim coming in at around 2 feet in length. The little ones will remain in the shallower water for quite some time to stay safe from older adults known to feed on the young.

Although sometimes vicious, the Galapagos shark is really just a powerful being of the sea. They are to be revered and appreciated. Who knows they may not always be here for us to be grateful for. If you would like to see these amazing creatures please contact us to learn how we can create a custom fit trip made especially for you.