1902 Encyclopedia > Shark > Angel Fish or Monk Fish. Pelagic Sharks. Carcharias. Blue Sharks.

(Part 4)

Finally, we have to notice among the littoral sharks the "Angel-Fish" or "Monk-Fish" (Rhina squatina), which, by its broad flat head and expanded pectoral fins approaches in general appearance the rays. It occurs in the temperate seas of the southern as well as the northern hemisphere, and is not uncommon on sandy parts of the coast of England and Ireland. It does not seem to exceed a length of 5 feet, is not used as food, and is too rare to do any perceptible injury to other fish. It is said to produce about twenty young at a birth.

(C) PELAGIC SHARKS. -- All these are of large size, and some are surpassed in bulk and length only by the larger kinds of cetaceans. Those armed with powerful cutting teeth are the most formidable tyrants of the ocean and dangerous to man, whilst others, which are provided with numerous but very small teeth, feed on small fishes only on marine invertebrates, and are otherwise almost harmless and of a timid disposition, which causes them to retire onto the solitudes of the open sea. On this account we know very little of their life; indeed, some are known from a few individuals only which have accidentally come ashore. All pelagic sharks have a wide geographical range, and many are found in all seas within the limits of the equatorial zone, -- some being almost cosmopolitan. All seem to be viviparous.

Dentition of the Blue Shark image

Fig. 10 -- Dentition of the Blue Shark (Cacharias glaucus). The single teeth as shown on this webpage are twice as large as the natural size.

Of the more remarkable forms which we propose to notice here the genus most abundantly presented in species and individuals is Carcharias. Perhaps nine-tenths of the sharks of which we read in books of travel belong to these genus. Between thirty and forty species have been distinguished, all of which are found in tropical seas. They are the sharks which so readily attach themselves to sailing vessels, following them to weeks, and thus exhibiting an endurance of muscular power scarcely found in any other class of animals. Others affect more neighborhood of land, congregating at localities where nature or the vicinity of man provides them with abundant supply of food. One of the most common species, and one of those which extend far into the temperate zones, is the Blue Shark (Carcharias Glaucus), of which small specimens (4 to 6 feet long) are frequently caught on the south coasts of England and Ireland. Other species of Carcharias attain a length of 25 feet. The mouth of all is armed with a series of large flat triangular teeth, which have a sharp, smooth, or serrated edge. (fig. 10)

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