Ever heard of them?
Well, that’s okay! They go by a number of names, such as “tope,” “flake,” “school shark” and “vitamin shark” (since their livers have vitamin A-rich oil). Maybe sound a little more familiar now?
No matter the common name, they’re always Galeorhinus galeus. They’re a houndshark in the Triakidae family, and the only member of the genus Galeorhinus.
You can distinguish these sharks from others by their slender body, long snout and lobed upper part of their caudal fin. They get up to 1.95 m (6.5 ft) and are a dark-blue/grey color, with a white belly. They have a wide distribution around the world, as you can see on the map.
Cool fact: In the North American west coast (around British Columbia and north California), most soupfins found there are males. As you travel down the coast, the female to male ratio evens out; continue to south California, most soupfins are females.
Speaking of females, they are ovoviviparous, giving birth after a 12 month gestation period. Their little sizes vary, but can get up to 52 pups- ouch! Most average anywhere from 28-38, though.
The IUCN has listed this animal as “Vulnerable.” In 2010, Greenpeace International added the school shark to its seafood red list.
We recommend avoiding all shark products from this animal as its population recovers.