Photo: Can you identify this shark?

Posted by on Tue, August 7, 2007

Dean Skelton
Dean Skelton writes: "I came across this fearsome looking little (about 30" long) fellow washed-up on Surfer Beach this morning. I have an idea what it might be, but am far from being an expert and so would be interested in knowing if it is in fact Jaws Jr."

Comment 1
Wed, August 8, 2007 1:37pm
All my comments

Hey there Dean. Sure looks like a great white to me…I also thought of a mako but the snout doesn’t look right. You could also try emailing either the Monterey Bay Aquarium or the guys at the Pelagic shark group at the Farallons (can’t remember their group’s correct name,sorry). One of them would know & probably be very interested. Good Luck!

Noelle Lane

[Editor’s Note:  Noelle tells me she has a degree on Biology from UCSC with an emphasis in marine biology]

Also nothing close to an expert, but it looks to me like it might be a small porbeagle.

Carl May

I am going to guess that it is a mako looking at the lower teeth, dorsal and tail taper.
Dean, what do you think it is?
Any experts out there?

While difficult to get a good look at the shape of the teeth in this photo, I’ll go with juvenile White Shark.  A quick Google of the porbeagle netted (pun intended) the Pacific range for this species being more southern with pix showing a white trailing edge on the dorsal fin - something that is not evident in Dean’s toothy friend.  Hopefully some resident expert will confirm an ID, but it’s still a pretty cool find at any rate!  Thanks for posting.

I would say it’s a mako, based on info from this site:

I don’t see any white on the dorsal fin, which seems to be the major marking. But it sounds like they get mistaken for each other quite a bit.

I was referring to the Pacific porbeagle, aka the salmon shark. (It seems to be at least a bit unsettled as to whether or not the Atlantic porbeagle and the salmon shark are distinct, separate species.) At this size, this one could be a juvenile Pacific porbeagle that does not yet have the dark spots in the light ventral areas. Might also be a small/juvenile mako for all I know. The dorsal fin shape and the stockier body are more in the porbeagle gestalt. From the photo I can’t see whether or not there is the diagnostic ridge on the caudal fin. One author, noting the frequent confusion between the two species, called the porbeagle a “fako.”

Carl May

You may be right, Carl.  I did find some pix of a juvenile salmon shark posted on Oregon’s fish and game site - very similar.  Wish the teeth and the ridge on the fin were more clearly visible.  Still cool - watch yer toes out there folks.

Sounds like we have a winner. I just posted a story from the Santa Cruz Sentinel todayu about the deaths of baby salmon sharks.

Thanks to Carl for the ID and elaboration. I wouldn’t have found the story without it.