The porbeagle shark, also known as the blue dog, is a medium-sized mackerel shark. It reaches lengths of 2.5m and can weigh up to 150Kg. Like, it’s cousin, the great white shark, it has a white or light grey underside and its dorsal area is a darker shade of grey. It’s recognizable for its conical snout, large gills, and robust body.
Porbeagle sharks are found in temperate and cold temperate waters of the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean, and they’re highly migratory. Their preferred temperature range is 1-18C. They’re commonly found in waters depths of up to 700m. These sharks have internal adaptations that keep their body temperature higher than the surrounding water.
Porbeagles’ diet consists mostly of smaller fish and cephalopods. Their predators are larger sharks, such as great white sharks, and killer whales.
They are aplacental ovoviviparous fish. Embryos develop inside the mother and eat unfertilized eggs. Their average litter size is four.
Porbeagles were once abundant in the North Atlantic but overfishing decimated their populations. Their meat is highly regarded in several countries and can fetch prices four times higher than blue sharks. In the year 2000, porbeagle populations were just 10% of pre-exploitation levels. This led to to the porbeagle being declared Critically Endangered in the Eastern North Atlantic (Canada and the United States), Endangered in Europe, and Vulnerable worldwide. They’re listed in CITES Appendix II, which means a permit is required to export them. Populations are slowly rebounding, but it’s constrained by slow reproduction rates and bycatch.
Porbeagle shark photo upper and below right: © Doug Perrine
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