Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer
Published: 2016-06-28

Misidentification of Carcharhinus galapagensis (Snodgrass & Heller, 1905) in the Southwest Pacific Ocean

Auckland War Memorial Museum, The Domain, Auckland, New Zealand Department of Conservation, Private Bag 68908, Newton, Auckland 1145, New Zealand.
Pisces Carcharhinus galapagensis C. amblyrhynchos morphology juveniles distribution Tasman Sea New Zealand


Although primarily a coral reef species the grey reef shark Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos has been recorded from a number of subtropical oceanic islands and reefs in the Southwest Pacific Ocean. Examination of all nominal C. amblyrhynchos voucher material collected from Lord Howe Island, Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs and Norfolk Island resulted in the re-identification of these specimens as Galapagos sharks, C. galapagensis. As C. amblyrhynchos superficially resembles C. galapagensis visual records of C. amblyrhynchos from Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs and the Kermadec Islands cannot be substantiated without voucher material. Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos therefore appears to be confined to waters north of about 25o S in the Southwest Pacific. Precaudal vertebral counts should be used to confirm the identification of nominal C. amblyrhynchos specimens that have an interdorsal ridge.



  1. Allen, G.R., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A., Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. (1976) Annotated checklist of the fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum, 30, 365–454.

    Anderson, C. & Waheed, A. (2001) The economics of shark and ray watching in the Maldives. Shark News, 13, 1–3.

    Clarke, C.R., Lea, J.S.E. & Ormond, R.F.G. (2013) Changing relative abundance and behaviour of silky and grey reef sharks baited over 12 years on a Red Sea reef. Marine and Freshwater Research, 64, 909–919.

    Compagno, L.J.V. (1984) FAO species catalogue. Vol. 4. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Part 2. Carcharhiniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis (125), 4 (2). FAO, Rome, pp. 251–655.

    Duffy, C.A.J. & Francis, M.P. (2010) Sharks and rays of the Kermadec Islands and north Kermadec Ridge: species of interest, conservation and scientific significance. In: DEEP: Talks and thoughts celebrating diversity in New Zealand’s untouched Kermadecs. Pew Environment Group, Wellington, New Zealand, pp. 76–80.

    Ebert, D.A., Fowler, S. & Compagno, L.J.V. (2013) Sharks of the World. Wild Nature Press, Plymouth. 528 pp.

    Economakis, A.E. & Lobel, P.S. (1998) Aggregation behavior of the grey reef shark, Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos, at Johnston Atoll, Central Pacific Ocean. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 51, 129–139.

    Francis, M.P. (1993) Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science, 47 (2), 136–170.

    Francis, M.P. & Randall, J.E. (1993) Further additions to the fish faunas of Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands, Southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science, 47 (2), 118–135.

    Gallagher, A.J. & Hammerschlag, N. (2011) Global shark currency: the distribution and frequency, and socio-economics of shark ecotourism. Current Issues in Tourism, 14, 797–812.

    Garrick, J.A.F. (1982) Sharks of the genus Carcharhinus. NOAA Technical Report NMFS Circular 445. U.S. Department of Commerce, Rockville. 194 pp.

    Gill, A.C. & Reader, S.E. (1992) Fishes. In: Longmore, R. (Ed.), Reef Biology - A survey of Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, South Pacific. Kowari 3. The Australian Museum, Sydney, Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Canberra, pp. 90–93, Appendix 5.

    Harriott, V.J., Harrison, P.L. & Banks, S.A. (1995) The coral communities of Lord Howe Island. Marine and Freshwater Research, 46, 457–465.

    Heagney, E.C., Lynch, T.P., Babcock, R.C. & Suthers, I.M. (2007) Pelagic fish assemblages assessed using mid-water baited video: standardising fish counts using bait plume size. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 350, 255–266.

    Heupel, M.R., Simpfendorfer, C.A. & Fitzpatrick, R. (2010) Large–Scale Movement and Reef Fidelity of Grey Reef Sharks. PLoS ONE, 5 (3), e9650.

    Heupel, M.R., Williams, A.J., Welch, D.J., Ballagh, A., Mapstone, B.D., Carlos, G., Davies, C. & Simpfendorfer, C.A. (2009) Effects of fishing on tropical reef associated shark populations on the Great Barrier Reef. Fisheries Research, 95, 350–361.

    Johnson, R.H. (1984) Sharks of tropical and temperate seas. Les Editions du Pacifique, Singapore, 170 pp.

    Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. (2009) Sharks and Rays of Australia. 2nd ed. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, 644 pp.

    New South Wales Marine Parks Authority (2010) Natural values of Lord Howe Island Marine Park. NSW Marine Parks Authority, Hurstville, NSW, 48 pp.

    Oxley, W.G., Ayling, A.M., Cheal, A.J. & Osborne, K. (2004) Marine Surveys undertaken in the Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve, December 2003. Produced for Department of the Environment and Heritage. The Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, 64 pp.

    Pequeño, R.G. & Sãez, B.S. (2003) The shark Carcharhinus galapagensis from Salas y Gómez Island, Chile (Chondrichthyes: Carcharhinidae). Revista de Biología Tropical, 51 (3), 795–796.

    Robbins, W.D. (2006) Abundance, demography and population structure of the grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) and the white tip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus) (Fam. Carcharhinidae). PhD thesis, School of Marine Biology and Aquaculture, James Cook University, 197 pp. Available from: (accessed 26 May 2016)

    Robbins, W.D., Hisano, M., Connolly, S.R. & Choat, J.H. (2006) Ongoing collapse of coral-reef shark populations. Current Biology, 16, 2314–2319.

    Sandin, S.A., Smith, J.E., DeMartini, E.E., Dinsdale, E.A., Donner, S.D., Friedlander, A.M., Konotchick, T., Malay, M., Maragos, J.E., Obura, D., Pantos, O., Paulay, G., Richie, M., Rohwer, F., Schroeder, R.E., Walsh, S., Jackson, J.B.C., Knowlton, N. & Sala, E. (2008) Baselines and degradation of coral reefs in the northern Line Islands. PLoS ONE, 3, e1548.

    Stevens, J.D. & McLoughlin, K.J. (1991) Distribution, size and sex composition, reproductive biology and diet of sharks from northern Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 42, 151–199.

    Waite, E.R. (1904) Additions to the fish-fauna of Lord Howe Island, No. 4. Records of the Australian Museum, 5 (3), 135–186.

    Wetherbee, B.M., Crow, G.L. & Lowe, C.G. (1996) Biology of the Galapagos shark, Carcharhinus galapagensis, in Hawai'i. Environmental biology of fishes, 45 (3), 299–310.

    Wetherbee, B.M., Crow, G.L. & Lowe, C.G. (1997) Distribtuion, reproduction and diet of the gray reef shark Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos in Hawaii. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 151, 181–189.

    Whitley, G.P. (1940) The fishes of Australia, part I. The sharks, rays, devil fish, and other primitive fishes of Australia and New Zealand. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Sydney, 280 pp.

How to Cite

DUFFY, C. A. J. (2016). Misidentification of <em>Carcharhinus</em> <em>galapagensis</em> (Snodgrass &amp; Heller, 1905) in the Southwest Pacific Ocean. Zootaxa, 4132(1), 97–106.