Physical Description

  • The soupfin shark is a small, slender-bodied shark with an elongated snout.
  • Has dark gray coloration on back and white coloration on the belly.
  • The second dorsal (back) fin is very small and triangular, and there is a large lobe on the top of their tails.
  • Mature sharks range from 53 to 69 inches for males and 59 to 77 inches for females.


  • Lives in the Northeast Pacific, between British Columbia and Baja California, Mexico.
  • Also found in the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea.
  • Also occurs around the eastern coast of Africa and around most of southern South America.
  • It also occurs around the southern coasts of Australia, including Tasmania, and New Zealand.


  • It is found mainly near the seabed close to coasts in temperate waters.
  • Found near bays and canyons.
  • Found down to depths of approximately 2,600 feet.


  • Spawn once a year in early summer.
  • Females incubate eggs in their body for a year.
  • They give birth to up to 52 pups at a time.
  • Nurseries are often in shallow water during the summer.


  • Sardines, midshipmen, flatfish, rockfish, octopus, and squid.
  • Crab, shrimp, lobster, worms, starfish and sea urchins.
  • Prey is both pelagic (open water) and benthic (near the bottom).


  • The meat and fins of the soupfin shark is considered a delicacy, especially in shark fin soup.
  • Great white sharks, sevengill sharks, and larger marine mammals.

Interesting Facts

  • Though these sharks are often called soupfin sharks because of their overfishing in the shark fin soup industry, their more accurate name is tope sharks, school sharks, or flake sharks. They are also called vitamin sharks, because their livers contain an oil rich in vitamin A, and they were also overfished for the vitamin industry.
  • Soupfin sharks are highly threatened due to the shark fin soup industry. It is important to save sharks by not eating shark fin soup or any shark products! 
  • Soupfin sharks are known to separate by gender. The males are often found from northern California to British Columbia, the females are in southern California, and they mix in equal ratios in central California. 

Sources: Monterey Bay Aquarium; California Sea Grant; IUCN Red List; Department of Fish and Game Fish Bulletin Number 64

Photo: Walter Heim