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Fish #20 School or Tope Shark Galeorhinus galeus ~ Carey Jones
Acrylic on canvas 25 x 20 cm
The School Shark has many names - the tope shark, snapper shark, and soupfin shark. The last name is a bit of a giveaway as to the reason for the (surprise surprise) over-fishing of this shark - it is prized the world over for its flesh, its fins, and its liver, which has a very high vitamin A content. Worse still there are very few fishing restrictions, with Australia, New Zealand, and California being the only regions to take any action to protect school sharks. There have also been too few studies to date so it's nigh on impossible to know how many School Sharks are really are out there, and whether the few existing restrictions are enough to protect them. Despite the lack of information the IUCN is worried enough to classify the School Shark in its Red List of Threatened Species.
School Sharks favour temperate seas at depths down to about 800 m (2,600 ft) where it grows up to 2 m (6 ft 7 in) long. They are amazingly well travelled being a migratory species. Animals tagged in the United Kingdom have been recovered in the Azores, the Canary Islands, and Iceland. Sharks tagged in Australia have travelled distances of 1,200 km (750 miles) along the coast and others have turned up in New Zealand. They tend to travel in schools which are segregated by size and gender, the females give birth to up to 38 'pups' after a one year gestation period. They have very large, almond-shaped eyes which are fantastic at spotting their prey, typically bottom-dwelling fish, crustaceans, and molluscs. Thankfully this is one breed of shark where humans aren't on the menu, so, return the favour and don't eat him (or her)!!
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