Thresher shark, the most agile of all sharks
by Jorge Mezcua on Jul 27, 2023
The thresher shark is characterized by its large caudal fin, which can measure up to 50% of the shark's total length, a short snout with a small mouth and sharp, curved teeth, and large eyes. The thresher shark is a strong and fast swimmer, capable of jumping above the water's surface. There are three species of thresher sharks in the genus Alopias: Alopias pelagicus, Alopias superciliosus or Bigeye Thresher Shark and Alopias vulpinus or Common Thresher Shark.
The color of the thresher shark varies from brown to black with metallic reflections on the dorsal part and white on the belly. They range in size from 3.3 to 5.5 meters in length.
One of the most surprising behaviors of the thresher shark is when it catches its prey. This shark feeds mainly on schools of small fish such as sardines, herring or mackerel and uses its long tail fin in two ways. First, it strikes the surface, forcing the fish to group together into more compact schools, and then it uses the fin to strike the group of fish with a sharp and powerful twist, eating those stunned or even killed by the blow.
Thresher shark habitat
Although they have occasionally been sighted in shallow coastal waters, the thresher shark is an eminently pelagic fish, reaching depths of up to 500 meters. Thresher sharks are found along the continental shelves of North America, Asia and the North Pacific, but are rare in the central and western Pacific. They are very common in the Philippines, especially in Malboal, Cebu and Malapascua, the southern Red Sea, the east coast of Australia and South Africa.
Thresher sharks are among the most commercially sought-after shark species, both for their meat, which is eaten fresh, frozen or smoked, and for their long fins, which are eaten in soup. Vitamins are extracted from its liver and its skin is used to make leather. It is estimated that 80% of the world's thresher shark population has been eliminated in the last 15 years.
The thresher shark is harmless to divers as it is a shy shark, very difficult to approach and does not show aggression towards animals larger than itself.