Galeorhinus galeus


Tope, Galeorhinus galeus, is a medium-sized shark with a widespread distribution mainly occurring demersal in cold to warm temperate coastal areas and on continental and insular shelves of all major oceans. However, the species has been recorded in depths beyond 500m on continental slopes, and offshore distribution more than 1500 km off the coast has been shown, as has pelagic distribution in open ocean areas.

Tope undertake extensive and wide-ranging seasonal latitudinal and inshore-offshore migrations. In the Southwestern Atlantic, seasonal latitudinal migrations of more than 1400 km have been reported between wintering grounds and summer/pupping/nursery grounds. Animals tagged in the United Kingdom showed mixing throughout their distribution range in the Northeast Atlantic and were recaptured as far away as Iceland, the Canary Islands, the Azores and in the Mediterranean more than 2000 km away from their release location. In Australia, mixing occurs along the southern part of the continent with migrations of more than 1000 km, and some individuals have been shown to cross the Tasman Sea to New Zealand. Although little is known about movements of tope in their South African distribution range, seasonal differences in catch composition and locations indicate migrations between possible nursery and feeding grounds. In the Eastern North Pacific, seasonal latitudinal but also offshore migrations have also been shown. Generally, tope are known to seasonally and locally segregate by sex and size.

In most parts of their distribution range, tope have been targeted in demand for liver-oil, meat and fins with gillnets and longlines and are also a common bycatch in trawl and other fisheries. Most of the stocks are shared between range states and are depleted to varying degrees, with serious levels of depletion in some areas. Globally, this species is assessed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List. Regionally tope are assessed as Critically Endangered (Southwest Atlantic), Vulnerable (Mediterranean, Europe, Australia and South Africa), Near Threatened (New Zealand) and Least Concern (Eastern North Pacific).

At present, only few conservation measurements are present for tope throughout its distribution range despite growing international awareness of common threats. Gear restrictions, mesh-size limits, length-based restrictions, seasonal closures are in place in Australia and New Zealand. In the Southwest Atlantic, seasonal restrictions in an area with increased occurrence of gravid females are the only conservation measure. In South Africa, no conservation measures are in place at present. In the Eastern North Pacific, no species- specific conservation measures are in place, but gear-restrictions also affecting tope. In the Northeast Atlantic, daily catch limits and gear restrictions are in place (UK), and EU regulations prohibit the taking of tope by longline over a large part of their northern European range.


Assessment information
CMS InstrumentsCMS, Sharks (2023)
IUCN StatusCritically endangered
Date of entry in Appendix II2020
Geographic range
Countries Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Canada, Chile, Congo (Brazzaville), Croatia, Cyprus, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa), Denmark (including Faeroe Islands), Ecuador, Faroe Islands (Denmark), France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Türkiye, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay
Common names
EnglishTope Shark
FrenchRequin hâ
Scientific name Galeorhinus galeus