Galapagos Sharks – An Active Predator

Photo courtesy from Ryan Photographic

Galapagos Shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis)

Max. Length: 370 centimeters
Length at 1st Maturity:  centimeters
Max. Weight: 195 kilograms
a value: 0.01360
b value: 3.000
Depth Range: 30 – 180 meters (100 – 595 feet)
Frequency: Near threatened due to high demand in shark’s fin

Although they are found in all the world’s tropical waters, this type of Requiem sharks is mostly concentrated in Galapagos Island of Ecuador and Cocos Island of Costa Rica. They usually thrive close to the reef but may patrol the open ocean and sometimes can dive to deep areas like the continental shelf.

Photo courtesy from

Galapagos sharks have a slender streamlined body with a snout that is wide and round in shape. It has a medium-size eyes and a mouth that has 14 rows of teeth that are serrated and triangular in shape in each jaw. Their body is colored brownish gray with a faint white stripe on the side and full-white undertone on its belly.

A typical habitat of a Galapagos shark are coral reefs or any rocky bottom that has a good visibility. Their juveniles are restricted in shallow waters while adults abound the deeper parts of the reef and this is the reason why you seldom see a juvenile Galapagos shark during your underwater adventures in Cocos island.

Typically, they are bottom feeders searching for reef fish, squids and octopus but may surface up if a bait is lured to them. They are known to travel great distances as part of their so-called patrolling highway and this is the reason why the nearby islands of Galapagos and Cocos shares the common abundance of Galapagos sharks.

Observe with Caution

Although Galapagos sharks feed mainly in bottom-dwelling organisms, they are considered dangerous to humans. It is not that they will directly attack you, but our presence underwater may trigger their curiosity and may become excited.

There is one incident in Cocos island that a group of divers were charged with a 14-foot Galapagos shark where the group, especially the dive guide, have a real close encounter. One of the seasoned member of the dive group said it was one of his scariest experiences underwater. But luckily, the shark just went off after that real close encounter.

How to Safely Interact with Galapagos Sharks

A diver swimming close to the ground. Photo courtesy from

Camouflage is one of the factors for a safe interaction. But how do we do it since humans don’t have that capability unlike squids and octopus? The trick here is you use cracks, crevices or rocks as your refuge where you can hide and become one with these underwater structure. If there is a prevailing water current, then holding a solid object while lying near the ground bottom is the best way to do it. In short: KEEP AS CLOSE TO THE REEF AS POSSIBLE. This method is not just applicable to Galapagos sharks, but may also apply to other large aggressive species like the tiger sharks.


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The IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species:

Encyclopedia of Life:


Video courtesy from driftingseahorse

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