AskDefine | Define porbeagle

Dictionary Definition

porbeagle n : voracious pointed-nose shark of northern Atlantic and Pacific [syn: Lamna nasus]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A large pelagic predatory shark, Lamna nasus, of the Atlantic.


a large pelagic predatory shark, Lamna nasus, of the Atlantic

Extensive Definition

The porbeagle, Lamna nasus, is a large pelagic predatory shark of the family Lamnidae. The porbeagle is considered vulnerable to extinction, and the European Union has proposed listing the porbeagle under the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).


The origins of the name porbeagle are unknown. The Oxford English Dictionary attributes its first appearance to a Cornish dialect. It is possible it is derived from two old French words meaning hog and nose. The Greek lamna means shark and nasus means nose.


The porbeagle's distribution ranges from the northeastern coast of North America, from New Jersey to Greenland and from the northwestern coast of Africa, Morocco or Western Sahara and the Mediterranean, and up to the waters off Iceland to the north coast of Norway and the northwestern coast of Russia. In the southern hemisphere its distribution is circumglobal from 30° to 60° south.
The porbeagle is listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN (World Conservation Union) Red List of Threatened Species. Canada also lists the porbeagle as an endangered species overfishing has recently decimated numbers in British waters.


The porbeagle is mainly a pelagic shark, but can be found in coastal waters. It lives in cold water commonly from about 5°C to 10°C (41°F to 50°F), but have been found down to 1°C (33°F) and up to 23°C (71°F). It can be found at the surface and to a depth of more than 700 metres.

Anatomy and appearance

The most distinguishing characteristic of the porbeagle is a white patch on the trailing edge of the dorsal fin. This distinguishes it from both the salmon shark and the great white shark. It has two keels on the caudal fin, in common with the salmon shark.
The porbeagle is a stout and heavy shark, dark blue-grey on top and white underneath, with a conical snout. The porbeagle can grow to about 3.7 m (12 ft), weighing about 160 to 250 kg (350 to 550 lb).


The porbeagle is among the fastest sharks. It can jump fully out of the water, a behavior observed in only a few sharks.


The porbeagle is an opportunistic feeder, it eats mostly bony fish like mackerel, herring, lancetfish and sauries.


The porbeagle is ovoviviparous. Gestation period is about 8 to 9 months. Litters of up to 6 pups have been recorded but the normal size is about 4. Pups are about 60 to 80 cm long when born. Female porbeagles reaches sexual maturity at about 12 to 13 years and males at 7 to 8 years.
porbeagle in Catalan: Marraix
porbeagle in Danish: Sildehaj
porbeagle in German: Heringshai
porbeagle in Spanish: Lamna nasus
porbeagle in French: Maraîche
porbeagle in Italian: Lamna nasus
porbeagle in Dutch: Haringhaai
porbeagle in Norwegian: Håbrann
porbeagle in Norwegian Nynorsk: Håbrann
porbeagle in Finnish: Sillihai
porbeagle in Swedish: Håbrand
porbeagle in Chinese: 鼠鲨
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