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Salmon shark ENH
A formidable hunter, the salmon shark (Lamna ditropis) is sometimes mistaken for the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), but can be distinguished by its shorter snout and the dusky blotches that mark the white abdomen of adults. The rest of the salmon shark’s stocky, spindle-shaped body is dark bluish-grey or blackish, with white blotches around the base of the pectoral fins. The first dorsal fin is large, while the second dorsal and anal fins are tiny and are able to pivot. Its crescent-shaped tail gives it impressive propulsion through the water, while its large, well-developed eyes enable it to spot potential prey, and its large, blade-like teeth are well suited to gripping slippery fish.

Biology Edit

Occurring singly or in schools of several individuals, salmon sharks are long distance, high-speed predators, occasionally seen at or near the surface in some areas. They can maintain their body temperature well above that of the surrounding cold water of the North Pacific, and may have the highest body temperature of any shark. This allows them to maintain warm swimming muscles and internal organs, so they can still hunt effectively in cool waters.

The salmon shark is considered to be one of the main predators of the Pacific Salmon as well as Sockeye Salmon and its voracious feeding on this fish has earned it its common name. However, it is an opportunistic feeder that consumes a wide variety of fish that also includes (amongst many others) herring, sardines, pollock, Alaska cod, lanternfishes and mackerel. It also feeds on some squid and is sometimes attracted to by-catch dumped back into the ocean by shrimp trawlers.

After spending the summer in the north of their range, the salmon shark migrates south to breed. In the western North Pacific they migrate to Japanese waters whereas in the eastern North Pacific, the salmon shark breeds off the coast of Oregon and California, USA. The young are born in spring after a gestation period of around nine months. The salmon shark is ovoviviparous, and oophagy (when the growing embryos eat unfertilized eggs to gain nutrients) has been recorded in this shark. Most litters contain between two and five young. Male salmon sharks are thought to mature at about five years and live to at least 27 years; females reach maturity at eight to ten years and are known to live to at least 20 years.

Range and Habitat Edit

The salmon shark occurs in the North Pacific Ocean. From Japan, North Korea, South Korea and the Pacific coast of Russia, its distribution extends east to the Pacific coast of the U.S.A., Canada, and probably Mexico. The salmon shark is a coastal and oceanic shark, inhabiting waters between 2.5 and 24 degrees Celsius, generally from the surface down to depths around 152 metres, although one individual has been recorded at 255 meters.

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