Thresher Shark

Alopias vulpinus

Thresher Shark
Doug Perrine/SeaPics.com

Overview — The muscular thresher shark cuts quite a figure as it navigates through its deepwater domains. Also called the “thrasher shark,” this species possesses a distinctive large tail that resembles the arc of a rainbow. The tail is so large that it accounts for 33 percent of the shark’s total body weight, meaning that the tail alone may weigh up to 767 pounds.

Rarely seen near shore, the thresher shark mostly lives along the continental shelves of North America and Asia. It has been identified in all of the world’s tropical oceans. Thresher sharks are solitary. In fact, scientists recently determined that populations in the Indian Ocean were separated both by depth and gender.

Feeding Habits — Like a giant sea rake, the tail of the thresher shark helps to herd bony fishes and to whack at them, if necessary, before consumption. Usually this shark’s hunting technique involves stirring the water around schools of fish, which traps them in a mini whirlpool. The terrified fish huddle together, making them a perfectly concentrated potential meal for the shark. It then zooms into the fish huddle, mouth agape.

Cool Fact — The thresher shark can swim at high speeds in short bursts and may even leap high out of the water if threatened or provoked from above.

Common Max Depth — 1,640 feet

MORE SHARKS: Great White Shark | Porbeagle Shark | Shortfin Mako Shark | ALL SHARKS

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