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the web of life in southern Africa

Alopias vulpinus (Thresher shark)

(Bonnaterre, 1788)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) >.Chondrichthyes > Elasmobranchii > Galeomorphii > Lamniformes > Alopiidae

Alopias vulpinus (Thresher shark) [Illustration by Ann Hecht ]


A thresher with relatively small eyes, curved, narrow-tipped pectoral fins, a narrow-tipped caudal fin, and a conspicuous white patch over the pectoral fin bases. Colour brown to blue or green above, white below.


To 6.1 m TL.


Almost entire coast from Namibia to Natal; all temperate and tropical seas



Oceanic and coastal, young often close inshore and in shallow bays, ranges from surface to 366 m.


A strong-swimming, active shark, sometimes jumping out of the water. Bears 2 to 4 young. Feeds on small schooling bony fish, squid, octopi, pelagic crustaceans, and occasional seabirds.

Human Impact

Often caught by sports anglers in the western Cape but seldom utilized here.

Text by Leonard J.V. Compagno, David A. Ebert and Malcolm J. Smale