Tope sharks are one of the San Diego celebrities of the ocean in my opinion. They have that aura of an exciting shark encounter among all of our muck diving. However, they are generally big scaredy cats and tend to bolt when they see scuba diver bubbles. Occasionally you will get a curious one that will come in a little closer to check you out. The really cool fact is you can also see these beauties just snorkeling, freediving or on a clear day even kayaking! They start to be spotted in larger numbers mid to late summer in shallower water specifically in San Diego, However, I had a few cool encounters while scuba diving in San Clemente in early June!
Few other sharky facts:
- Tope sharks are also referred to as soupfin sharks because they were heavily fished in the 1930’s & 1940’s for their fins for sharkfin soup. This took a toll on their population, but thankfully their population is bouncing back with numerous bans on shark fining!
- In the northern part of its U.S. west coast range (British Columbia to northern California), most soupfins are males. In southern California, females predominate. Along the central coast of California, there are roughly equal numbers of males and females.
- Males mature around 3.9 to 5.6 feet and females mature at 4.3 to 6.1 feet. Pups measure 12 to 14 inches.
- It feeds mainly on fish, squid, and octopus near the seabed or in the water column, not a “man eating shark” in the slightest. 😉