Know your fish | Tope

The tope is a member of the shark family. It can be found all around the coastline of the British Isles and Ireland.

They live close to the bottom, preferring sand or gravel, but they will move into mid-water to feed.

They younger the fish the more chance of it coming into the shallower water near the shore, so if you wish to catch a larger tope you may need to go adrift upon a charter boat.

Identification

The tope is a very slender shark that has a sharply pointed snout. Its first dorsal fin is very large compared to the second (which is positioned very close to the tail).

It also has an anal fin which is positioned directly underneath the secondary dorsal fin.

The colouration of the tope is as follows: grey/brown on the back and sides with a white/creamy coloured underbelly.

The tope has sharp triangular teeth within its underslung mouth. They are triangular and very typical of most predatory sharks.

The average adult tope measures 1.3m long, but tope to 2m have been captured and recorded.

tope.gif

Feeding

Tope feed on fish. They attack schools of cod, whiting and bib mainly, but when pickings are a little thin they will also feed on bottom-dwelling creatures such as flatfish, crustaceans and molluscs.

Breeding

Like most sharks the top bears live young. The mother carries between 20-40 young tope for around 10 months. She travels to shallower waters to give birth to the young, which will be around 35cm long. The tope gives birth to her young during the summer months.

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