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 Thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus)

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Thresher shark
 Range Map

Earth Map


Phylum: Vertebates (Chordata)

Class: Carlilagenous Fishes (Chondrichthyes)
  Order: Mackerel sharks (Lamniformes)
    Family: Thresher sharks (Alopiidae)
      Genus: Alopias (Alopias)


Scientific: Alopias vulpinus
German: Fuchshai, Drescherhai
English: Thresher shark, Whiptail shark, Elephant shark, Sailfish shark
French: Renard
Spanish: Zorro


Typical thresher shark with a very long tail. The upper lobe is about half the entire size of the shark. Small eyes with orbits that do not expand onto dorsal surface of head. Forehead is strongly convex in lateral view. Frist dorsal fin erect and angular. Pectoral fins are falcate and narrow-tipped.


Dark, metallic shine, ventral surface white extending over pectoral fins bases as a very conspicuous patch.


Worldwide in warm temperate waters. Western Atlantic: New Foundland to Florida, Bahamas, Cuba. Venezuela to Brazil. Eastern Atlantic; Norway to Ivory Coast. Mediterranean. Western Indian Ocean: South Africa, Tanzania, Somalia, Madagascar, Gulf of Aden, Maledives. Western Pacific: Japan, Korea, China, Australia, New Caledonia. Eastern Pacific: British Columbia to Baja California, Panama, Chile. Central Pacific: Hawaiian Islands.


Lives in coastal waters over the continental and insular shelves, and epipelagic. Found from the surface down to 360 m, with juveniles living in shallow waters. A very active and fast swimmer, can leap out of the water. This species and the other thresher sharks possess an elevated body temperature due to a special blood circulatory system (rete mirabile) that enables them to live in colder waters.


Thresher shark feed primarily on small schooling fishes (such as herrings, sardines) that are herded together with their tails and then stunned or killed with it.


Average size between 300 cm and 500 cm (up to 230 kg). Maximum total length about 610 cm and 450 kg.


Aplacental viviparous (ovoviviparous), with uterine cannibalism. Two pups per litter. The pups are born in open water and show a fast growth. Size at birth between 115 cm and 150 cm. Males reach sexual maturity at 260 cm, females at 350 cm.

 Similar Species

Bigeye thresher but that species has much bigger eyes and contours on its head.


Status in the IUCN Red List(Version 2001):

Main criterion: > DD (Data Deficient)
Sub criterion:
Trend: Unknown

 Danger to Humans


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