Tope Shark
Tiburón Aceitoso
(Galeorhinus galeus)

Tope Shark, Galeorhinus galeus: The Tope Shark has an elongated slender body with a long snout that is gray above with a white belly. The rear edges of the pectoral fins are pale. The eyes are horizontal ovals and the teeth are small of equal size on both jaws and broadly triangular with serrations on one side.

The first dorsal fin is much larger than the second. The anal fin is the same size as the second dorsal fin.

A key to identification of the Tope Shark is the tail which is strongly asymmetrical with a long upper lobe and a very well developed lower lobe. Due to the shape of the tail this species cannot be easily confused with any other.

Tope Sharks are found near the bottom at depths up to 1,400 feet and they reach a maximum length of 30 inches.

Distribution in Mexico

The Tope Shark is only found along the west coast of Baja California and as far south as the Revillagigedos Islands; they are absent from the Sea of Cortez and along the coast of the Mexican mainland.

The Tope Shark is a member of the Triakidae Family, which include the Hound and Tope Sharks, known in Mexico as Cazónes. There are 38 members of the family in 9 genera, of which 7 species are found in Mexican waters. They are small in stature with the largest one reaching 6.5 feet in length. They have slender bodies with long pointed snouts, horizontal oval eyes, and long angular arched mouths that reach past the front margin of the eyes. They are demersal (found close to the bottom) from the coastal shallows to over a mile deep within the water column. They are most active at night, feeding on crustaceans, cephalopods, and fish. The Hound and Tope Sharks are not harmful to humans. The Tope Shark is the sole member of the Galeorhinus Genus.

Tope Shark, Galeorhinus galeus: Provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, Mexico, May, 2011. Size: 69.5 cm (27 inches). Description and photo courtesy of John Snow.