A shark with a chilling nickname

The Blackbelly lanternshark or Lucifer shark, (Etmopterus lucifer), is a shark belonging to the family Etmopteridae. They can be found in several locations worldwide in tropical and temperate seas.


Family: Etmopteridae – Lantern Sharks

Genus: Etmopterus 

Species: lucifer


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles



Common NameDogfish Sharks

Family– Etmopteridae

Common NameLantern Sharks




Average Size and Length: Mature males have been measured at 29 cm/11.4 inches, and mature females have been measured at 34 cm/1.1 feet. The longest recorded has been 42 cm/1.4 feet.

Teeth and Jaw: The teeth in the upper and lower jaws differ. The teeth in the lower jaw are blade-like. Those have cusps and cusplets. There are generally 3 pairs of cusplets in the upper jaw. The upper teeth are slender, sharp and straight.

Head: The eyes are very large, just behind the nares, and slightly closer to the tip of the snout than the first gill slit.

Denticles: There are rows of dermal denticles running from the tip of the snout to the tail.

Tail: The Blackbelly lanternshark or Lucifer shark has a somewhat long tail.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Blackbelly lanternshark or Lucifer shark has been recorded in the western Pacific Ocean in Japan, the South China Sea, Australia, New Caledonia, and New Zealand. There have been some accounts in the southeast Pacific, the south Atlantic, and central Pacific. There have been claims of other sightings in other areas, but these have not been confirmed. They can be found on the outer continental and insular shelves and upper slopes on or near the bottom between 518-4,452 feet in tropical to temperate seas.

Diet: The eat mostly small bony fish, shrimp and squid.

Aesthetic Identification: The Blackbelly lanternshark or the Lucifer shark has a stalky body. It is brown dorsally and black ventrally. There is an elongated, narrow black mark running ahead, above and behind the pelvic fins. There are more black marks at the tail base and along its axis. The gill openings are somewhat long. There is a short interdorsal space. The second dorsal fin is very large.

Biology and Reproduction: Presumably ovoviviparous.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

Blackbelly Lanternshark Future and Conservation: Not evaluated, however they are of least concern in their range currently. In June 2018 the New Zealand Department of Conservation classified the Blackbelly lanternshark as “Not Threatened” with the qualifiers “Data Poor” and “Secure Overseas” under the New Zealand Threat Classification System.

Blackbelly Lanternshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.