CENTROPHORIDAE GULPHER SHARKS
The Centrophoridae or Gulper sharks are a family belonging to the order of Squaliform sharks. The family contains just two genera and about 20 known species. The family name is also the name of one of the species Centrophorus granulosus, Gulper shark. They pray on fish bony fish, some are known to feed on squid, octopus, crustaceans, tunicates, and even smaller sharks and rays.
They are mainly deepwater, bottom-dwelling and some considered benthic to pelagic. They have been recorded almost worldwide in cold temperate to tropical seas with the exception of the northeast Pacific and very high latitudes. Most Centrophoridae will be found in warmers and in the Indo-west Pacific. There are several endemic species in this family. Typical depth range of these sharks is between 1,000-1,500 feet, however there have been accounts of some as shallow as 50 feet and as deep as 4,000 feet.
The Centrophoridae have cylindrical bodies with short to long snouts. They range from 2.59-5.38 feet in length. They have yellowish to greenish hued eyes. Both jaws have blade-like teeth. The upper teeth are without cusplets and the lower teeth are larger than the upper teeth. There are two dorsal fins with grooved spines. The first dorsal fin is smaller than the second or could be much larger than the second, originating in front of the pelvic fin origins. The second dorsal fin has a straight or a weakly concave posterior margin. This family does not have an anal fin. They have angular to greatly elongated pectoral free rear tips. The skin of Centrophoridae is smoother to the touch. The dermal denticles are either block like or leaf-shaped.
There are some things that distinguish Deania from Centrophorus. Deania has skin that is rougher, a longer snout and a tall, slender dorsal fin. The dorsal dermal denticles are topped with pitchforked-shaped crowns.
Little is known about the biology of Centrophoridae. Many species are known to be social. They may form large schools, shoals or aggregations. The species that form large aggregations were once among the most common deep-sea sharks. These sharks are aplacental ovoviviparous. The have anywhere from 1 to 12 pups per litter. They have low reproduction rates and long gestation periods, which is a growing concern in evaluating their status.
Gulpher sharks have one of, if not the lowest reproduction rate of all sharks.
These sharks are often misidentified and the samples are poor. They have been a target for commercial fisheries as well as bycatch. They are considered valuable. Their meat is oily and the livers are high in squalene. The conservation status is unknown and there aren’t efforts in place currently, however there is a growing concern for species among this family.
The 20 known species grouped into two genera: