(Linnaeus, 1758); TRIAKIDAE FAMILY; also called toper, school shark, soupfin,
oil shark, vitamin shark
Topes are moderately large, wide ranging, active, schooling sharks found
in coastal continental waters of the Eastern Pacific, Western South Atlantic,
Eastern Atlantic, Southwestern Indian Ocean and Western South Pacific.
They are characterized by a rather long, pointed snout and oval eye and
distinctive teeth, which have a sharp oblique cusp and 3 5 coarse basal
serrations. The second dorsal fin is nearly over the anal fin and about
the same size. The terminal lobe of the caudal fin is extremely large,
about half the length of the upper lobe. Tope are ovoviviparous, giving
birth to 6 to 52 (average 35) young per litter.
This is a popular catch of anglers, commonly taken by rod and reel particularly
in the British Isles, off South Africa, California, and southern Australia.
Primarily an opportunistic predator feeding mostly on moderate sized bony
fishes, and in some areas crabs and squid. It has a strong preference for
very fresh fish or squid bait over slightly stale or even fresh frozen
bait. It will fight actively when hooked.
Its meat is eaten fresh, fresh frozen, or dried salted, its fins are used
for sharkfin soup. Tope were once intensively fished for the exceptionally
high concentrations of Vitamin A found in the liver