Physical Description

  • Small, slender shark.
  • Pointed snout and large oval eyes.
  • Asymmetrical tail fin (bigger on top than on bottom).
  • Brownish gray coloration on top, lighter bellies.
  • Noticeable spiracle (breathing hole) behind each eye.
  • Adult males grow to about 48 inches, females have been measured at 64 inches long.


  • Found from northern California to Baja California, Mexico.
  • Found in Gulf of California.


  • Live in coastal waters, like bays and rocky shores.
  • Live at depths of 6-150 feet.


  • Adult females become reproductively mature at 29 inches, males at 24 inches.
  • Spawning most likely takes place in waters off of northern California.
  • Gestation takes 10-11 months and females give birth to live young.
  • Litters are between 2-5 pups, with an average length of 8-12 inches.


  • Eat ghost shrimp, innkeeper worms, small fish like midshipmen and herring, shore crabs, and rock crabs.
  • They have blunt teeth to help them bite through their hard, shelled prey.


  • Smoothhound sharks’ predators are larger sharks, including the sevengill shark.

Interesting Facts

  • Gray smoothhound sharks often school with leopard sharks.
  • This small shark is considered harmless to humans.

Sources: Florida Museum; Espinoza et al. 2011

Photo: Andy Murch

Come see a smoothhound shark in person at Birch Aquarium’s Shark Shores or at Living Coast Discovery Center!