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December Elasmobranch of the Month: Little Gulper Shark

Little Gulper Shark

(Centrophorus uyato)

Key Features/Appearance

The Little gulper shark is a relatively small, slender species, reaching a maximum length of 128 cm (4.2 ft.). Their coloration is pale brownish-gray on the top side and lighter underneath. The dorsal fins are relatively short with spines. The first dorsal fin is only slightly larger than the second. The pectoral fins are short and rounded. This shark does not have an anal fin. The forked caudal fin is notched and both lobes are rounded at the ends. The snout is long and narrow. Their green eyes are large and reflective. The teeth of the little gulper shark’s lower jaw are larger than the teeth in the upper jaw. Teeth is both jaws are blade-shaped.

Habitat and Distribution

This shark species has a global and patchy distribution in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. These bottom dwelling sharks, range in depth between 50 – 1,400 meters (164 – 4,593 ft.) on continental and insular shelves.


The Little gulper’s diet includes cephalopods, such as octopi and squid, as well as bony fishes.


This shark reproduces using the ovoviviparous method. With this method, embryos develop in eggs inside the female. The eggs are nourished by a yolk until they are ready to hatch. Females usually birth only 1 pup per litter. The length of the pup at birth ranges between 39.6 – 48.8 cm (1.3-1.6 ft.).


The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species currently lists the little gulper shark as Endangered, with a decreasing population trend.


Little gulper sharks are targeted mainly for their oily livers, considered to be one of the most valuable shark liver oils. They are also caught for human consumption and medicines. Like many shark species their fins are found in the shark fin trade and they are killed as bycatch in commercial fishing equipment.


Britannica Kids

Planet Shark Divers

Sharks and Rays

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Finucci, B., Bineesh, K.K., Cotton, C.F., Dharmadi, Kulka, D.W., Neat, F.C., Pacoureau, N., Rigby, C.L., Tanaka, S. & Walker, T.I. 2020. Centrophorus uyato. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T41745A124416090. Accessed on 12 December 2022.

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