Animal Species:Thresher Shark, Alopias vulpinus (Bonnaterre, 1788)

The extremely long upper lobe of the Thresher Shark's caudal fin is used to herd and stun small fishes upon which the shark feeds.

Standard Common Name

Thresher Shark

Alternative Name/s

Atlantic Thresher, Common Thresher Shark, Fox Shark, Green Thresher, Thintail Thresher

Identification

All the thresher sharks (Family Alopiidae) have an extremely long upper lobe of the caudal fin. The Thresher Shark can be recognised by its pointed, pectoral fins, white colouration of the body above the pectoral fins, and other fin characteristics. In life it is blue-grey dorsally and white ventrally.

Three species of thresher sharks are recorded from Australian waters. The Bigeye Thresher Alopias superciliosus, has very large eyes which extend onto the top surface of the head, and a deep groove which runs from behind the eyes to above the gill slits. The Pelagic Thresher, Alopias pelagicus, can be recognised by a combination of characters including fin shapes and colouration. The side of the body above the pectoral fin is dark.

Size range

The Thresher Shark grows to a maximum size of around 5.5 m.

Distribution

The species has a widespread distribution in temperate and topical waters. In Australia it occurs from southern Queensland to Tasmania, around the south of the country and to the central coast of Western Australia.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Alopias vulpinus

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Thresher Shark specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?

Habitat

The species occurs in coastal and oceanic waters. In Australia it occurs in temperate waters from the surface down to about 370 m.

Feeding and Diet

The elongate upper lobe o the tail is used to herd and stun small fishes upon which the shark feeds.

Classification

Species:
vulpinus
Genus:
Alopias
Family:
Alopiidae
Order:
Lamniformes
Class:
Chondrichthyes
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  1. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO. Pp. 513, Pl. 1-84.

 


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Thresher Shark, Alopias vulpinus, Alopiidae, Atlantic Thresher, Common Thresher Shark, Fox Shark, Green Thresher, Thintail Thresher, pointed pectoral fins, white, blue-grey, very large eyes, > 5m, adult, marine, temperate water,