Tope (Galeorhinus galeus)
Tope are slender, medium-sized sharks that are a bluish to grey colour on their backs and white underneath, with a long nose and a distinctive tab on their tail fin. They swim in schools in temperate areas worldwide and undertake seasonal migrations to breeding grounds in shallower inshore waters. The tope is viviparous, with females giving birth to litters of between 20 and 40 ‘pups’. Tope are long-lived, surviving as much as 55 years in the Northeast Atlantic.
The conservation status of the tope is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List, and its status on the Irish Red List for cartilaginous fish is listed as vulnerable. Tope have a low productivity rate and a long generation time, maturing after 10 years.
The Marine Sportfish Tagging Programme tagged 6,406 tope between 1970 and 2009 off the coast of Ireland, most commonly in Tralee Bay, with a dramatic increase in tagging effort by charter skippers fishing for tope over the years. The tagging programme has shown that tope migrate long distances after tagging in Irish waters, with recaptures north to the Shetland Islands and south along the coast of Europe to as far away as the Azores and the Canaries. This provides evidence that tope in the Northeast Atlantic form a single population.