Soupfin Shark

Cartilaginous Fishes—Class Chondrichthyes — (A skeleton of cartilage that is not true bone)

Subclass Elasmobranchi—Sharks and Rays

Order Carcharhiniformes — Hound Sharks—Family Triakididae

Picture courtesy of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Species: Galeorhinus zyopterus (Linnaeus, 1758); from the Greek words galeos  (a kind of shark), rhinos (nose or snout), zuon, (animal) and pteron  (fin-large pectoral fin).

Alternate Names: Tope, oil shark, vitamin shark, snapper shark. Called tiburón aceitoso in Mexico.

Identification: They have a slender body with two dorsal fins, the second much smaller than the first and located nearly over the anal fin (which is about the same size). . They have a large subterminal lobe on the caudal fin (tail) that creates the appearance of a “doubled” tail. They have a long, pointed snout and elongate eyes. Their coloring is dark, bluish or bronze gray above and white below with black on the forward edges of the dorsal and pectoral fins; the caudal fin is usually black tipped with a white spot.. Youngsters, like you sometimes see on piers ,have a white edge on the pectoral fins.

A soupfin shark caught at the Berkeley Pier by Redfish (Robert Gardner)

Size: To 6.5 feet and about 100 pounds but most caught from piers are under four feet.

Range: From San Juanico Bay, southern Baja California, and the Gulf of California, to northern British Columbia.

Habitat: Found in both bays and oceanfront water; normally found in deeper parts of bays but frequently in shallower water, especially at night. Tends to feed on fish, squid and octopus.

A 55-pound soupfin caught by barracuda76 at the San Clemente Pier in 2007

Piers: An infrequent catch at some San Francisco Bay piers. Best bets: San Francisco Municipal Pier, Berkeley Pier, Elephant Rock Pier, Angel Island Pier, and the Fort Baker Pier.

Shoreline: Occasionally taken by shore anglers in San Francisco Bay.

Boats: A frequent catch by boaters in San Francisco Bay.

A soupfin caught at the Manhattan Beach Pier in 2011

Bait and Tackle: Medium tackle, line at least 20-pound test line, and hooks 2/0 or larger. The best bait is a live midshipman, mudsucker or staghorn sculpin fished near the bottom. Live shrimp, grass shrimp or ghost shrimp, and frozen squid or anchovies will also tempt a few soupfin.

Food Value:  A mild flavored flesh suited to several methods of cooking. The best method is probably grilled. It does need to be cleaned properly and kept cool before cooking.

Comments: Never as common as smoothhounds or leopard sharks. Females give birth in the spring to 15-50 young and soon after many of the small pups will be caught by anglers (and hopefully will be returned to the water to grow).

 A soupfin shark and one happy angler at the Cayucos Pier

A nice soupfin caught in the surf in north San Diego Count by lowprofile in 2012

A 5’10″ soupfin caught by “Mr. Happy” at the Venice Pier in 2006

Soupfin shark taken at the Gaviota Pier in 2005 by eddog who said he is 5’10″ tall

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