Description: Dark grey to grey-brown or nearly black dorsal side, pale flank band and white ventral side. Inconspicuous fin markings including dusky edges on ventral caudal lobe, second dorsal, pectoral, pelvic and anal fins. Large and slim body with a long, flat rounded snout and small jaws. Long narrow pectoral fins located in front of first dorsal fin. Narrow interdorsal ridge present.
Distribution and Habitat: Occurs worldwide in all tropical and some warm temperate waters. Ranges from Massachusetts (USA) to southern Brazil in the western Atlantic. The silky shark is an oceanic and coastal pelagic species frequently found along edges of continental and insular shelves. Most common in water less than 200 meters deep, although it can be found at depths of 500 meters in epipelagic zones.
Size: Maximum size varies among regions, but has recorded as 371 cm total length in the Atlantic. Size at birth is typically 65-81 cm total length.
Reproduction: Viviparous live birth after a gestation period of 9-12 months (varies depending on region). Litter size ranges from 2-18 pups, with an average of 5-7. In the Atlantic, males have been shown to reach sexual maturity between 215-225 cm total length, and females will reach maturity between 232-246 cm total length.
Life span: Varies by region, estimated at 22 years in the Atlantic.
Diet: As adults, silky sharks can be seen swimming with and feeding on schools of tuna. Their diet also includes other teleosts, cephalopods and pelagic crabs.
Status: Vulnerable as of September 2017.
Human pressures: Second most caught species of shark globally. Targeted or caught as bycatch in commercial and artisanal fisheries by longlines, purse seines and nets set in the water column. Often retained (regulations permitting) for fins and meat trade.