Featured Species: Silky Sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis)

This week’s Featured Species is a quick, pelagic species that I had the absolute pleasure of diving with a few weeks ago in Cabo San Lucas, Baja: the Silky Shark (Carcharhinus falciformis).



Flannery, A. (2017 November) Silkies [Video Clip]

The silky shark is so named for their incredibly smooth, silky texture of their skin. Their dermal denticles are densely compacted, covering their entirely bodies and are shaped somewhat like a diamond (Rigby, Sherman, Chin, & Simpfendorfer, 2016). While other shark skins have been used as sand paper, the silky shark has been used in the shark leather trade, producing soft leathers for shoes, purses, briefcases and even books (Parker, 2008).

A) Apical view of a single denticle B) Dermal denticles (Bigelow & Schroeder, 1948).


While the silky shark is typically known for it’s skin, it is also know by several other names including olive shark, sickle shark, sickle silk shark, sickle-shaped shark, and the ridgeback shark for the distinct ridge line along the shark’s back (Parker, 2008).

Flannery, A. (Photographer). (2017 November 17). Ridge Line on a Silky Shark [Digital Image].

Silky sharks are an open water pelagic species. They are one of the three most common pelagic species. The other two most commonly found pelagic species being the blue shark (Prionace glauca) and the oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus). They generally lead a solitary life, only seeking out each other to mate. They have been observed trailing behind their favorite prey, schools of tuna. To feed on the fleshy tuna, the silky shark is equipped with tall, serrated, triangular teeth in the upper jaw and weakly serrated, narrow cusped teeth in the lower jaw.

Carcharhinus falciformis (Silky Shark)1 jaw 10.5 inches wide 6 inches high labial view
Carcharhinus falciformis (Silky Shark) [Digital Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://phatfossils.com/

Shark Stats

Authority: Bibron, 1839

Family: Carcharhinidae; 59 + species

Length: Average 8 feet (2.5 m)

Weight: Record weight of 763 lbs (346 g)

Habitat: Continental and  insular shelves, deep water reefs and islands

Depth: Upper reaches of pelagic habitat to 1,650 feet (500 m)

Reproduction: Viviparous

Gestation: 12 months

Litter Range: 6 – 14 pups

Home Range: Worldwide distribution in tropical waters

Diet: Bony fishes like mackerel, tuna, mullet; invertebrates

IUCN Status: Near Threatened

(Stevens, 1997; Rigby, et al., 2016)

If you missed last week’s featured species, be sure to check out one of the cutest sharks in the entire world: the California Horn Shark! Let me know what species you’d love to see featured! I would LOVE to know what you’re thinking! Drop me a comment, send me a message! I love to talk everything elasmobranchs!

The new Ocean For Sharks Shop is open! There’s handmade ocean inspired plush animals, canvas paintings, and of course my children’s book, Winifred the Wondrous Whale Shark, available in print and PDF. Be sure to stop by. Remember proceeds benefit shark research and conservation with a donation to Project AWARE!

Remember you can make a difference for marine ecosystems by calling your Congress man or woman and tell them that you care about the quality of our waters! Sharks, rays, and other marine organisms cannot speak or be represented in Congress. They need your voice. Get involved and stand up for sharks. Until next time finatics.


Featured Image Source

Flannery, A. (Photographer). (2017 November 17). Silky Shark in Cabo San Lucas [Digital Image].

Literature Cited

Frederico, L., & Hassall, G. (Eds.). (1998). Reader’s Digest Explores: Sharks (1st ed.). Reader’s Digest.

Parker, S. (2008). The encyclopedia of sharks (2nd ed.). Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books Ltd.

Rigby, C.L., Sherman, C.S., Chin, A. & Simpfendorfer, C. 2016. Carcharhinus falciformis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T39370A2909465.

Bigelow, H. B., & Schroeder, W. C. (1948). New genera and species of batoid fishes. Journal of Marine Research7, 543-566.

Stevens, J. D. (Ed.). (1997). Sharks (6th ed.). New York: Facts on File.

Tricas, T. C., Deacon, K., Last, P., McCosker, J. E., Walker, T. I., & Taylor, L. (1997). The Nature Company Guides: Sharks and Rays. (L. Taylor, Ed.). Hong Kong: The Nature Company, Time Life Books.

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Featured Species Friday: Oceanic Whitetip Shark (Carcharhinus longimanus)

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