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May Elasmobranch of the Month: Gulper Shark

Gulper Shark

Centrophorus granulosus

Key Features/Appearance

The gulper shark is a medium sized, green-eyed species with a maximum length of 170 cm (5.7 ft). They have a somewhat slender body that is dark gray to brown on top with lighter coloration underneath. Their first and second dorsal fins are of almost equal size, with the second being somewhat shorter than the first. The pectoral fins originate immediately next to the gills and have pointy extensions on the inner portion. The upper lobe of the caudal fin is relatively long and about twice as long as the lower lobe. The split between the two lobes is minimal, appearing almost as one paddle-like tail. They do not have an anal fin. The upper jaw holds 33-40 rows of teeth while the lower jaw has approximately 30 rows. Both the upper and lower teeth are blade shaped with those in the lower jaw being broader.

Habitat and Distribution

The Gulper shark is a deep-water species ranging between 98–1500 m (322 – 4,900 ft.) While patchy, their distribution is global in the tropical to temperate waters of the Indo-Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.


Specifics of the gulper shark’s diet aren’t known. It’s believed they eat fish, including hake and lantern fish, as well as crustaceans and squid.


The gulper shark is ovoviviparous. This method of reproductions occurs when fertilized eggs develop and hatch inside the female who then gives birth to live pups. They have a lengthy gestation period of approximately 2 years and only 1 to 2 pups per litter. At birth, a new pup measures approximately 30-42 cm (1- 1.4 ft) in total length.


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


The Gulper Shark is targeted and also killed as bycatch by the commercial fishing industry. They are targeted for their large oily livers and for their meat.


Florida Museum of Natural History

Planet Shark Divers

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Finucci, B., Bineesh, K.K., Cheok, J., Cotton, C.F., Dharmadi, Kulka, D.W., Neat, F.C., Pacoureau, N., Rigby, C.L., Tanaka, S. & Walker, T.I. 2020. Centrophorus granulosus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T162293947A2897883. Accessed on 11 May 2023.

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