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  • Writer's pictureSharks4Kids

March Elasmobranch of the Month: Viper Dogfish

Viper Dogfish

General description

The viper dog fish was first identified in 1986, they are very rare and have been found in the Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Japan, Hawaii and Taiwan. They are deep sea dwellers, migrating vertically in the ocean, swimming between 300m and 400m ( 984-1312 feet) deep at night and closer to the surface, around 150 m ( 492 feet) deep, during the day.

Image Credit: Taiwan News

Biology and Behavior

There is very little known about viper dogfish as they are rarely seen. What we do know is that they have a large number of photophores on their underside and a smaller number around their bodies which allows them to glow. Their dermal denticles, which are V shaped scales, make their skin tough and allow them to swim away quickly and quietly. Male viper dogfish can grow to 47cm ( 1.5 feet) , while females reach 53cm ( 1.74 feet) from head to tail.


Their spiky teeth are better suited to grasping rather than cutting and sheering. They capture their prey by extending their jaws and have need-like teeth. They mainly feed on bony fish, but can consume prey half their size. Scientists revealed the stomach contents of these sharks and found they are most likely to swallow their prey whole.

Image Credit: Taiwan News


Viper dogfish are ovoviviparous


Rarely seen viper dogfish caught in Taiwan. Sarah Kearts. 2018.

Trigonognathus kabeyai.

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