ganges shark

A TRUE only freshwater shark

The Ganges Shark is a TRUE exclusive river and freshwater shark! The Ganges shark does not live in salt water, unlike the Bull shark, which also inhabits the Ganges River, and the two are often mistaken for one another. The Ganges shark (Glyphis gangeticus) is a critically endangered species of requiem shark found in the Ganges River (Padma River) and the Brahmaputra River of Bangladesh and India.

Family: Carcharhinidae – Requiem sharks

Genus: Glyphis

Species: gangeticus

Taxonomy:

Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles

SubclassElasmobranchii

OrderCarcharhiniformes

Common Name- Ground Sharks

FamilyCarcharhinidae

Common NameRequiem Sharks

GenusGlyphis

Speciesgangeticus

Status: IUCN Red List CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

Average Size and Length: The Ganges shark is estimated 5.83 feet at maturity, with a maximum length of about 6.67 feet.

Average Weight:

Current Rare Mythical Sightings: The Ganges shark is an ACTUAL freshwater shark! Nothing gets more mythical and rarer than that!

Teeth and Jaw: The upper teeth of the Ganges shark have high, broad, serrated, triangular cusps and the labial furrows are very short. The lower front teeth have long, hooked, protruding cusps with un-serrated cutting edges along the entire cusp, but without spear-like tips and with low cusp-lets on feet of crowns. The tooth row counts are 32–37/31–34. The cusps have a claw-like shape to them.

Head: The snout of the Ganges shark is broadly rounded and much shorter than the width of its mouth. The mouth is long, broad, and extends back and up towards the eyes. The eyes are very small and tilted towards the back with internal nictitating membranes. This is suggesting that it may be adapted to turbid water with poor visibility, such as occurs in the Ganges River and the Bay of Bengal.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Ganges shark is only found in the rivers of eastern and northeastern India, particularly the Hooghly River of West Bengal, and the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Mahanadi in Bihar, Assam, and Odisha. It is typically found in the middle to lower reaches of a river. One found in 2018 in a Mumbai fish market may have come from somewhere along the banks of the Arabian Sea. It is known to inhabit only freshwater, inshore marine, and estuarine systems in the lower reaches of the Ganges-Hooghly River system. In theory, it could occur in shallow marine estuaries; however, no marine records of the species have been verified to date.

Some researchers consider the Ganges shark to be amphidromous, covering more than 62.1 miles in both directions.

A specimen photographed in 2011 by natural history journalist Malaka Rodrigo at Negombo fish market in Sri Lanka prompted researcher Rex de Silva to speculate on whether the species could occasionally be carried south of its normal range by ocean currents. However, only the head of the shark appears in the photo. Leading shark expert Leonard Compagno emphasized the need to check the dentition and the dorsal fin proportions to confirm the specimen as the Ganges shark, stating that it could also be one of the four other named species. (de Silva, Rex I. (May–August 2011). “Does the Ganges shark Glyphis gangeticus stray to Sri Lanka?“. Bombay Natural History Society. 108 (2): 136).

Diet: Their feeding habits are mostly unknown. In the Bay of Bengal, the Ganges shark was found to feed heavily on Dasyatis stingrays, which spend much of their time on the bottom. But it may swim along the bottom and scan the water above it for potential prey back-lit by the sun.

Aesthetic Identification: The Ganges shark is uniformly grey to brownish in color with no visible markings. It is stocky, with two spineless dorsal fins and an anal fin. The first dorsal fin originates over the last third of the pectoral fins, with a free rear tip that is well in front of the pelvic fins. The second dorsal fin is relatively large, but much smaller than the first (about half the height). The anal fin is slightly smaller than the second dorsal fin and the pectoral fins are broad. A longitudinal upper precaudal pit is seen, but no interdorsal ridge.

Biology and Reproduction: Research suggests that the Ganges shark is viviparous. The litter size and gestation period are unknown. The presence of newborn individuals in the Hooghly River suggests that the young may be born in fresh water.

Their life history cycle is probably similar to other river sharks, characterized by long gestation, slow growth, delayed maturity, and small litter size. These factors make the Ganges shark populations vulnerable to even relatively low levels of exploitation, such as sport angling or gill netting.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: The Ganges shark’s small eyes and slender teeth suggest that it is primarily a fish-eater and is adapted to turbid water. Since it has such limited visibility typical of many tropical rivers and estuaries, other senses like hearing, smell, and electroreception are likely used for predation.

Ganges Shark Future and Conservation: The Ganges shark is critically endangered. They are extremely vulnerable to habitat changes. The Ganges shark is restricted to a very narrow band of habitat that is heavily affected by human activity. Overfishing, habitat degradation from pollution and water pollution, increasing river use, and management, including construction of dams and barrages, the clearing of mangroves for fuel, are the principle threats. Thought to be consumed locally for its meat, the Ganges shark is caught by gillnet, and its oil, along with that of the South Asian river dolphin, is highly sought after as a fish attractant. The Ganges shark needs much conservation and research. We need to save this unique shark.

The Ganges shark is believed to be part of the Asian shark fin trade. After a sighting in 2006, the species was not seen again for over a decade until one was found at a Mumbai fish market in 2018. The Ganges shark is victim to intensive artisanal fishing, mainly gillnetting, but also line and electrofishing.

In 2001, the Indian government banned the landing of all species of chondrichthyan fish in its ports. However, shortly afterwards, this ban was amended to cover only 10 species of chondrichthyans including the Ganges shark. It is protected under Schedule I, Part II A of the Wildlife Protection Act of India. However, much doubt exists about the effectiveness of this measure because of difficulties in enforcement. A widespread and widely dispersed artisanal fishery exists for both local consumption and international trade.

Ganges Shark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Despite the local population to think the Ganges shark is a vicious threat and killer to humans, the Ganges shark is not a threat or danger to humans. Research suggests that the Ganges shark is commonly mistaken for the aggressive Bull shark that inhabits the same region. It is much more likely that humans come in contact with the Bull shark, rather than the very rare Ganges shark.