January Elasmobranch of the Month: Frilled Shark
Updated: Mar 16
Author: Linda Weiss
The Frilled shark’s predominant color is brown, varying between dark brown, blackish or greyish. Its body is shaped like an eel rather than the typical shark body most of us think of. It has a flattened head, short snout and over-sized mouth for its size. Unlike most sharks, its mouth is located at the of its head, not underneath. Its fins are also not typical. It only has one dorsal fin located just before the caudal fin. The caudal fin tapers from the body without a pre-caudal notch and has a very small lower lobe. The pectoral fins are small and located directly behind its gills. This shark has six pairs of gills which are curved, including the first set (nearest the mouth) which curve underneath where they connect under the throat. At birth the Frilled shark measures 39-55 cm (15-21 in). Adult maximum length is 2 m (6.4 ft) with females averaging around 1.5 m (4.9 ft) and males averaging just over 1 m (3 ft). This shark has 25 rows of teeth, for a total between 200-300. Their teeth are thin with three cusps and curved inward.
Habitat and Distribution
The Frilled shark is a deep-water species known to be at depths of 50-1500 m (164-4,921ft) with a global range.
This active hunter often lunges at its prey and may swallow it whole. They feed on fish and squid with squid appearing to be their main prey item.
Frilled sharks’ reproduction is Ovoviviparous, meaning the eggs hatch inside the female prior to birth. They reproduce year-round with litter sizes between 6-12 pups. Their gestation period is the longest known in the shark world, sometimes reaching 3.5 years!
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species currently lists the Frilled shark as Least Concern.
While the Frilled shark is not targeted by fisheries it is sometimes caught as by-catch on longlines and in gillnets and trawls. Due to its low and slow reproduction, any capture is a threat to this species.
Reefquest Centre for Shark Research
Shark Research Institute
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Smart, J.J., Paul, L.J. & Fowler, S.L. 2016. Chlamydoselachus anguineus . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41794A68617785. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T41794A68617785.en. Downloaded on 13 December 2019.