Salmon sharks are mackerels found across the northern Pacific Ocean. They are the apex predator of their habitat, one they share with other sharks like the great white shark and blue shark.
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Salmon Shark Scientific Classification
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Table of Contents
Size: Adults reach between 6.6 and 8.6 ft (200-260 cm). The largest confirmed length of a salmon shark is 10 ft (3 m).
Weight: They can weigh up to 485 lbs (220 kg), some have been reported to be more than 992 lb (450 kg).
Color: They have a medium gray to black color on most of their body, while there are dark blotches on the ventral side.
Salmon sharks are found in the waters of the northern Pacific Ocean.
These sharks inhabit both oceanic and coastal waters, usually with temperatures of 36.5°-75.2°F (2.5°-24°C) at depths of up to 500 ft (152.4 m).
- Salmon sharks stay in groups based on gender and size.
- They usually hunt by themselves, but may also join feeding groups, consisting of up to 40 individuals.
- They migrate seasonally and have been observed to follow the migration patterns of their prey.
They live on Pacific salmon, steelhead trout, Pacific herring, Pollock, sardines, daggertooth, pomfrets, sculpins, and Pacific sauries.
Mating & Reproduction
Copulation takes place when the male bites a female’s pectoral fin to hold on to them and inserts one of its modified pelvic fins, known as claspers into the female’s cloaca. The gestation period lasts for about 9 months after which a litter of 2-6 pups is born. During gestation, the embryos feed on the mother’s ova.
Male salmon sharks become capable of reproducing by the time they are 5 years old, but females may take as long as 8 to 10 years to become sexually mature.
They can live for between 20 to 30 years.
They communicate through visual, auditory, olfactory, mechanical, chemoreceptive, and electroreceptive channels.
- These sharks are endothermic and keep their core body temperature higher than the temperature of the water they are in. They achieve this by retaining the heat generated as a result of cell metabolism.
- Their eyes have binocular vision, helping them locate prey more easily.
- Small pores on the snouts help gather electromagnetic signals emitted from the movement of swimming fish.
- Sharp teeth help the shark kill and tear their food into bite-sized pieces.
- The tail is shaped like a crescent moon and gives good propulsion to the shark in the water.
Great white sharks, blue sharks, and adult salmon sharks may prey on juvenile salmon sharks. Adult salmon sharks have no natural predators.
IUCN Conservation Status
The IUCN currently lists the salmon shark under their ‘Least Concern’ category.
- The salmon shark is often misidentified as the great white shark but can be distinguished by their shorter snout and blotchy belly. Another behavioral distinction the salmon shark has from its cousin is that it is far more docile compared to the great white, and only one documented case of an attack on a human has been recorded.
- There is a significant and unexplained disparity in the sex-ratio of salmon sharks from the eastern population of the north Pacific to the western.
- There is a cap on salmon shark fishing in Alaska, where one person can only fish it twice per year.