Wild Fact #328 – A Playful Attitude – Porbeagle Shark

Porbeagle Shark

Image by Dan Doucette, Infotography

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to learn about the  Electric Catfish, today, we get to explore the ocean world looking for the amazing Porbeagle Shark. This particular shark is pretty easy to identify but you had better be quick since they just happen to be one of the fastest swimmers in the sea. This species of mackerel shark is typically found in the North Atlantic as well as in the South Atlantic, South Indian and South Pacific oceans, so pretty much every ocean :). Let’s learn a little more so we know what the Porbeagle Shark looks like when it comes cruising past you.

Porbeagle Description

This incredibly active swimmer has a powerful body and can grow up to 3 m (9.8′) in length while typically weighing up to 150 kg (300 lbs). Although the record weight is actually 230 kg (510 lbs), which is one large fish. They have a white belly with a bluish-grey back and a large pointed snout, which makes them easy to distinguish. These particular sharks tend to live between 25 to 46 years in the wild, provided the fisherman don’t catch them in their nets.

Porbeagle Shark

Photo: S. Campana

A Playful Predator

Believe it or not, the Porbeagle Shark has been known to display a playful behaviour. This type of activity is rare among fish species and especially rare amongst the shark family. Nonetheless, we have witnessed this particular shark rolling and wrapping itself  in long pieces of kelp near the surface of the ocean. Sure, many people speculate that they are simply feeding on small crustaceans or trying to scrape parasites off their skin. But this doesn’t explain why they tend to play with anything that is floating on the surface of the water such as driftwood or floats used by anglers. As well, when these sharks are travelling together they have been known to chase one another in a playful like manner. Sure, the Porbeagle may just be a curious animal but I like to believe they are just a playful creature who is enjoying their life.

Reducing the Quota

Unfortunately, this magnificent animal often has their enjoyable life cut short by commercial fisherman. The meat and fins of the Porbeagle are highly valued and as such they are targeted. Although their population has seen a sharp decline, countries such as Canada are attempting to regulate their population by imposing weight quotas. A few years back, a typical Canadian fisherman would catch approximately 2000 tonnes worth of Porbeagle Shark. Now, this same fisherman has a maximum quota of only 250 tonnes. This is a big improvement and it will hopefully allow this particular shark to enjoy their playful life a little longer.

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