Galapagos Shark

Swimming next to a Galapagos Shark is an experience that will definitely create a sense of adventure accomplishment.


Galapagos Hammerhead Shark

galapagos shark hammerhead

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Sharks are fish that also inhabit the waters of the Galapagos Islands, and when seen, they generate in visitors an experience that combines some degree of fear, adrenaline and reputation. Only extreme sports generate this reaction.

During the varied aquatic programs offered by different travel companies, you can find sharks in Galapagos in several occasions, there are weeks of course, that we don't see them at all, but generally some island site will give you the opportunity (and privilege) of seeing them.

It is really too bad that the sharks' reputation has given them the nickname "man eaters", since out of the 350 species of sharks, few actually have attacked humans.

Galapagos Shark Characteristics

  • Order: Carcharhiniformes
  • Family: Carcharhinidae
  • Genus: Carcharhinus
  • Species: galapagensis

Originally the shark in Galapagos was named Carcharinus galapagensis Snodgrass and Heller 1905, followed by a name change to Carcharias galapagensis Snodgrass and Heller 1905.

Later that same year, this shark received its currently valid name of Carcharhinus galapagensis (Snodgrass and Heller, 1905).

The genus name Carcharhinus is derived from the Greek "karcharos" = sharpen and "rhinos" = nose.

The species name galapagensis is derived from the location, Galapagos Islands Ecuador, where the described specimens were caught in 1905.

Size: 10 - 12 feet in length.

Diet: Galapagos sharks eat prey taken from the ocean floor including bottom-dwelling squid, fish and octopus.

Habitat: Galapagos sharks live tropical seas at depths ranging from 16 - 200 feet deep.

Reproduction: At birth shark pups can be approximately 22 - 32 inches long and a litter can be from 6-16 pups.

The young pups stay in shallow waters to avoid being eaten by adult Galapagos.

The Galapagos Islands shark is similar to the Grey Reef Shark but with a rounder head and thicker body towards the tail area, can be difficult to identify.

These sharks are only found in a very isolated spots in the world.

The Galapagos shark can grow to nearly 2 feet and its upper teeth are triangular and serrated which means this shark should be considered dangerous.

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Galapagos sharks have been known to go as deep as 200 feet. Young sharks will go into very shallow water and tend to prefer to swim just off the bottom.

They normally stay in one small area and usually are quite numerous in those areas.

The Galapagos Islands shark is brownish-gray upper body and white ventral surface with or without dusky markings on the fins. An inconspicuous white band can sometimes be seen on the flanks.

The Islands shark is currently not listed by the World Conservation Union(IUCN) as endangered or threatened at this time.

The IUCN is a global union of states, governmental agencies, and non-governmental organizations in a partnership that assesses the conservation status of species.

In the Islands it is surely a privilege to enter the marine environment where Galapagos sharks live.

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These experiences will definitely create a sense of adventure-accomplishment, and many will speak about them for years to come, more so if it was their first time ever with a hammerhead shark, white-tip reef shark, and the colossal Galapagos Whale Shark (largest fish on Earth).

The marine highlights hold a unique feature for the Galapagos Islands: It's the only place on Earth that compacts tropical water fish, subtropical water fish, Galapagos Sea Lions and even Tropical Penguins. Where else?

Thus, having a mask in Galapagos is just a small invitation to a marine realm full of surprises, highly educational, and complete with unforgettable memories.

These experiences not only generate satisfaction and emotion, but they also make you appreciate more why the protection of such marine environment deserves first priority in the Galapagos National Park.

Without a doubt, the waters of the Islands are a source of education, fun, exercise, and most of all, extremely high satisfaction. Splash!

Recommended Reading

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides). Click to order from Amazon

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)

With 250 photos and tons of great information, this is an essential addition to your pre-Ecuador and -Galapagos reading!

There are better guides if you are only interested in the islands, but for a combination trip taking in Ecuador as well, it's hard to beat.


Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands. Click to order from Amazon

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands

Small enough to fit into your pocket, yet containing comprehensive information and pictures of all the species you will encounter in the islands, this book is a must-have for nature lovers.

Let's face it, Galapagos is largely about the wildlife. This book will NOT disappoint, and you'll have a great memento of your time with the seals, penguins and tortoises!


Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World. Click to order from Amazon

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World

Definitely NOT a tourist's guide, but if you're like me, and find the history and geography of the islands irresistible, then this is a title you ought to invest in.

Stunningly illustrated, and painstakingly researched, those of you who have been there will be enchanted again -- and those of you who have not will begin planning your trip!


Moon Spotlight Galapagos. Click to order from Amazon

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands

If you're a seasoned Galapagos regular, then you will probably prefer something weightier.

But for first-timers looking for simple, down-to-earth advice on where to go, what to see and the best shopping and eating on the islands, this is the book for you.

Small, well-priced, and reliable!


Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire. Click to order from Amazon

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire

The 10th anniversary edition of this photographer's tour of the Galapagos Islands is a stunning book, worthy of anybody's coffee table.

This is a perfect post-trip talking point -- a great way to remember what you've seen, and spread the word amongst your envious friends!


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