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Common Thresher

Alopias vulpinus

FAMILY: Alopiidae

ALSO KNOWN AS: Thresher shark

CONSERVATION STATUS: Endangered (worldwide)

RANGE: North Atlantic and southern Atlantic

LENGTH: 500 cm (approx. 16 feet) total length

WEIGHT: 499 kg (1100 lbs)

Illustration ©Marc Dando

Photograph ©Wix Stock

Overview

RANGE: Occasionally found in Gulf of Maine from May to October, more common in  Southern New England. Isolated historical reports of juveniles at the mouth of Long Island Sound.

HABITAT: Found in warm and temperate near- and offshore waters from 0 to 400 m in depth. Historical range in Western North Atlantic extends from Newfoundland to Florida. 

Map ©IUCN

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IDENTIFICATION: Dorsal coloration is blue-grey, sometimes with purple undertones, fading to grey on sides and white underneath. The dorsal lobe of the caudal fin makes up nearly 50% of the shark’s length. Middle of the first dorsal fin is approximately equidistant between the base of the pectoral fin and the origin of the pelvic fins.

INTERESTING FACTSUses its long tail to herd and stun fish, turning rapidly to consume stunned prey. Known to leap from water. Regionally endothermic shark capable of retaining body heat generated from rapid metabolism. Seasonal coastal migrations throughout its range.

IUCN CONSERVATION STATUS: Endangered

Vulnerable to extinction; One fish of at least 54 inches fork length (FL) is allowed per vessel per trip. Anglers should confirm that they have not misidentified their shark with the Bigeye Thresher, Alopias superciliosus, which is prohibited in US waters. Federal Highly Migratory Species fishing permit required in federal waters.

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