Common thresher (Alopias vulpinus)

IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable

The IUCN status of “vulnerable” for the common thresher is due to a combination of moderate levels of global targeted fishing, large levels of misreporting of mortality rates in bycatch events, and the general life history characteristics of this species which makes it hard to recover from exploitation

Serious population declines in areas where heavy fishing occurs have been reported, such as in the eastern Pacific gillnet fishery, where landings reportedly were reduced 73% within a 6-year period in the 1980s

These circumglobal sharks are highly valued for meat (for consumption) and fins, and is an important species in recreational fisheries

This species is found in tropical to cold-temperate seas, has a tolerance for cold waters, and possesses an anatomy that supports regional endothermy, the ability to harness and retain metabolically-generated heat to warm certain areas of the body (a characteristic shared by only certain sharks, such as the white and shortfin mako sharks)

This species has 2-4 pups per liter, and reproduction is viviparous, with the pups being nourished in utero by a placental connection; oophagy has been shown to occur as well, where sibling pups will eat eggs while still in the uterus

This species, along with other thresher species, are easily identified by the elongated upper lobe of the caudal fin, which the sharks use for hunting small bait fish – the lobe is used like a whip, and the targeted bait fish will be hit by the threshers tail, stunned, and subsequently eaten by the hunting thresher shark

Maximum sizes for this species range from ~13.5-18 feet total length, but this includes the elongated caudal fin

This species are thought to live for at least 24 years, and maybe up to 50 years