Salmon shark

A warm-blooded and efficient hunter

The Salmon shark (Lamna ditropis) is a species of mackerel shark found in the northern Pacific Ocean. It is a close relative of the Porbeagle shark, and also a relative of the Great White shark. They have the ability to regulate their body temperatures. 

Family: Lamnidae


Genus: Lamna

Species: ditropis



Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles

Subclass- Elasmobranchii


Common Name– Mackerel


Genus– Lamna

Species– ditropis

Status: IUCN Red List Least Concern

Average Size and Length: Salmon sharks can grow to over 10 feet long, but the average is usually in the 6.5-8 ft range.

Average Weight: Up to 600 pounds, but typically around 210

Teeth and Jaw:  Salmon shark teeth are similar to that of the Porbeagle. They have moderately large blade-like teeth with lateral cusp-lets, which are small bumps that appear to be mini teeth on either side of the tooth. The first upper lateral teeth have nearly straight cusps.

Head: Short conical snout with a dark underside of the snout in adults.

Tail: A wide crescent, double keel. A double keel is unusual among sharks; the only other double-keeled tail is on the closely related Porbeagle shark.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Salmon shark can be found in coastal and oceanic environments of the subarctic and temperate North Pacific Ocean. The Salmon shark prefers a temperature range is 36.5 degrees F to 75.2 degrees F (2.5 to 24 degrees Celsius). They travel across the North Pacific from the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk to the Sea of Japan in the western Pacific, and from the Gulf of Alaska to southern Baja California, Mexico, in the eastern Pacific. This species is most common in continental offshore waters, from the surface down to a depth of at least 500 feet, but it has been known to come inshore.

Salmon sharks are migratory. Salmon sharks spend the summer in the north, and then will migrate south to breed. In the western North Pacific, they migrate to Japanese waters whereas in the eastern North Pacific, the salmon shark breeds off the coast of Oregon and California. Migration for the Salmon shark is ultimately dependent on the concentration of the available prey species.

Diet: Salmon sharks feed on salmon of course, and sea otters, birds, squid, sablefish, herring, walleye pollock and others.

Ram-Suction Index: Ram

Aesthetic Identification:  The skin of a Salmon shark is dusky grey, to dark grey or black above and paler below with white blotchy markings. There is a white patch over pectoral fin bases.

Biology and Reproduction: The Salmon shark has two keels on its caudal fin, these aid in propulsion. It has long gill slits and it has a heavy body.

The Salmon shark is warm-blooded or endothermic.

For Salmon sharks, mating occurs in late summer to autumn. Females give live birth in the spring to 2-5 pups. Male Salmon sharks reach sexual maturity at 5 years of age and females at 8-10 years. They are ovoviviparous, and gestation is between 8 and 9 months. Salmon sharks breed in late summer to early autumn. Developing embryos will consume unfertilized eggs in the womb. Once the sharks are born, they are completely independent, and they have to fend for themselves.

Maximum age of a Salmon shark is 25 years.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Salmon sharks participate in segregation by size and sex, and with larger sharks ranging more northerly than young. Adult Salmon sharks migrate alone or in loose groups of 30 to 40 individuals, following schools of Pacific salmon.

Salmon sharks usually hunt by themselves, but may also join feeding groups, consisting of up to 40 individuals. They are docile in comparison to their cousins.

Their eyes have binocular vision, helping them locate prey more easily, but also rely on their sense of smell, and Ampullae.

Speed: They are powerful and fast swimmers. 50 mph.

Salmon Shark Future and Conservation:

Salmon Shark Recorded Attacks on Humans: ISAF identified 1 attack on humans.