PORT PHILLIP BAY


Thresher Shark 

Alopias vulpinus (Bonnaterre, 1788)

View scientific description and taxonomy

Scientific Details

Meristics.
Vertebrae: 343-356 (precaudal 112-116)
Jaw teeth (upper): 17-1-2:2-1-17
Jaw teeth (lower): 19 or 20-1 or 2-19 or 20

Additional information in:
Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) (2008) Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Order level detail.
A diverse group that includes a number of highly specialised sharks, including the Goblin Shark, the Basking Shark, the Megamouth Shark, the White Shark, nurse sharks and thresher sharks. Species are found worldwide in tropical and temperate oceanic and coastal waters. They have two dorsal fins (without spines) and an anal fin, but lack a nictitating membrane on the eye. Most are streamlined, open-water sharks that mostly swim constantly.

Family level detail.
Easily recognised sharks with an extremely long scythe-like tail, a fusiform body with very long, narrow pectoral fins and tiny second dorsal and anal fins. Found worldwide in tropical and temperate seas from coastal to open-ocean waters, and are very active, strong-swimming open-water sharks. Females give birth to live young.

Taxonomy

Phylum:
Chordata
Subphylum:
Craniata
Superclass:
Gnathostomata
Class:
Chondrichthyes
Subclass:
Elasmobranchii
Order:
Lamniformes
Family:
Alopiidae
Genus:
Alopias
Species:
vulpinus

General Description

Body fusiform, stout; tail as long or longer than rest of body; head broad; snout broad; eyes on midside of head; pectoral fins with narrowly rounded tips. Metallic blue-grey above, underside white, with white area extending above pectoral-fin bases. To 5.7 m.

Biology

This species uses its enormous tail to herd schooling fishes towards the surface, where they are stunned by thrashing the tail. Females give birth to live young.

Habitat

Coastal regions to the open ocean, in surface depths to 650 m.

Open water

Distribution guide

Circumglobal. In southern Australia.

Species Group

Sharks and rays Sharks

Depth

Shallow (1-30 m)
Deep ( > 30 m)

Water Column

On or near sea floor Midwater

Max Size

5.7 m

Diet

Carnivore

Harmful

Although not usually considered dangerous to humans, has the potential to bite, or inflict damage with tail.

Commercial Species

No

Global Dispersal

Recorded in Australia

Conservation Status

  • DSE Advisory List : Not listed
  • EPBC Act 1999 : Not listed
  • IUCN Red List : Vulnerable

Author

article author Bray, D.J.

Di Bray is a Senior Collection Manager of ichthyology at Museum Victoria.

Author

article author Gomon, M.F.

Dr. Martin Gomon is a Senior Curator of ichthyology at Museum Victoria.

citation

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Gomon, M.F., 2011, Thresher Shark, Alopias vulpinus, in Taxonomic Toolkit for marine life of Port Phillip Bay, Museum Victoria, accessed 21 Oct 2017, http://portphillipmarinelife.net.au:8098/species/6567

Text: creative commons cc by licence