Dusky shark (Carcharhinus obscurus)

IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable

This is a large coastal-pelagic shark found in temperate and warm-temperate waters

Found in surface waters down to depths of ~1,300 feet (400 meters)

Nurseries for this species have been found off the KwaZulu-Natal coast of South Africa, New Jersey to South Carolina in the United States, and Australia’s southwest coast

Adults are among the largest of their genus, reaching up to ~12 feet (360 centimeters), and live up to 40-50 years

This species eats other fish, elasmobranchs, and cephalopods (octopus, squid, and cuttlefish), with one observation of a group of 10-20 dusky sharks attacking a humpback whale calf in South Africa!!

Pups are born at sizes up to ~3.3 feet (100 centimeters), with litter sizes from 3-16 individuals

Dusky sharks are viviparous, meaning the young are nourished through a placental connection, and the young develop for 22 months in the mother

This species actually has a three-year reproductive cycle in which one litter is produced, and given the low litter sizes, dusky sharks have a very low rate of population increase

Given this low “fecundity” (the ability to produce young), dusky sharks are particularly vulnerable to overfishing, among the most vulnerable of all vertebrates

This species is highly valued for both it’s fins and meat

Dusky sharks have been caught as targeted catch and bycatch, in both commercial and recreational fisheries, and are particularly vulnerable to capture stress, making recovery rates, upon release, low

Initial declines of this population in the Northwest Atlantic (NWA) began with overfishing in the recreational and longline fisheries in the 1970s-80s, leading to dusky sharks being placed on the prohibited fishing list in 2000

This species’ population in the NWA are one of the more depleted shark stocks

Recently considered for the Endangered Species Act, but it was determined that management plans put in place for this species are successfully helping stock in NWA avoid extinction, bringing some good news to this historically overfished stock