japanese velvet dogfish

Very rare deep-water black velvety-looking dogfish only found in Japan

The Japanese Velvet dogfish (Zameus ichiharai) is a harmless deep-water Sleeper shark of the family Somniosidae, found in the northwest Pacific from Suruga Bay and adjacent waters of Japan at depths of between 1,476 and 2,723 feet.


Family: Somniosidae – Sleeper sharks

Genus: Zameus

Species: ichiharai


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles



Common NameDogfish Sharks

Family– Somniosidae

Common NameSleeper Sharks




Average Size and Length: The length at birth is unknown. The maximum recorded is 3.3 feet, and this was a male.

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth of the Japanese Velvet dogfish is narrow, short and transverse. The upper teeth are spear-like and small. The lower teeth are high, knife-like cusps that are good for cutting.

Head: The Japanese Velvet Dogfish has a low, flat head with a long snout.

Tail: The caudal peduncle is long. The caudal fin has a strong subterminal notch and a short lower lobe.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Japanese Velvet Dogfish can be found in Japan over the slope, on or near the bottom between 1,476 and 2,723 feet. They have been recorded in Suruga Bay and Honshu.

Aesthetic Identification: The Japanese Velvet Dogfish is black in color. The gills are short, and about half the eye length. There are two dorsal fins with small spines. The pectoral fins are narrow, and shaped like a leaf, well in front of the first dorsal spine. The pelvic fins are small and about equal to the second dorsal fin.

Biology and Reproduction: Unknown, but introductory research suggests ovoviviparous.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown

Japanese Velvet Dogfish Shark Future and Conservation: They aren’t evaluated, but have been caught by the deepest line fisheries.

Japanese Velvet Dogfish Shark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.