LEAFSCALE GULPER SHARK
A deepwater shark with rough skin, denticles shaped like leaves, green eyes and an exceptionally long lifespan
Family: Centrophoridae – Gulper Sharks
Common Name– Dogfish Sharks
Common Name– Gulpher Sharks
Average Size and Length: They are born between 1.1-1.3 feet. Mature males are around 3.3 feet and mature females around 3.6 feet. The maximum recorded was 5.2 feet.
Teeth and Jaw: The Leafscale Gulper shark has teeth in both jaws that are shaped like blades. The upper set is much smaller than the lower one.
Head: The snout of the Leafscale Gulper shark is short and think or slightly flattened. Their eyes are large and green.
Denticles: The skin of the Leafscale Gulper shark is rough. The dermal denticle crowns are leaf-shaped in adults, and bristle-like in juveniles.
Tail: The posterior margin of the caudal fin is slightly concave and just about straight in adults. The lower lobe is weakly developed.
Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Leafscale Gulper shark can be found in the eastern Atlantic around continental slopes from Iceland south to the Cape of Good Hope, western Indian Ocean around Aldabra Islands, and western Pacific around Honshū, Japan, the Philippines, south-east Australia, and New Zealand. They are found over continental slopes between 755-7,874 feet. In the northeast Atlantic it is rare to see them above 3,281 feet. They have also been found between 0-4,101 feet in water that is up to 13,123 feet. They are considered demersal and pelagic.
Diet: It probably feeds on fish and cephalopods.
Aesthetic Identification: The Leafscale Gulper shark is grey to grey brown or even reddish-brown dorsally. They have dusky fins. The pectoral fin free edges are short. They are not really elongated or angular. The first dorsal fin is very long and low. The second dorsal fin is higher, yet shorter than the first, and more triangular with the spine base usually opposite the pelvic fin’s inner margins or free rear tips. Both dorsal fins have spines.
Biology and Reproduction: The Leafscale Gulper shark is ovoviviparous having between 5-8 pups per litter. Their reproductive cycle is not confirmed but according to recent research in Portugal’s landing ports, there are two breeding cycles a year. It is reported to have a lifespan of approximately 70 years, based on otolith ring counts, they also have slow growth rates.
Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: They are thought to be nocturnal.
Leafscale Gulper Shark Future and Conservation: They are important to deepwater fisheries. Its meat is utilized dried and salted for human consumption and as fishmeal. The New Zealand Department of Conservation has classified the Leafscale Gulper shark as “Not Threatened” with the qualifier “Secure Overseas” under the New Zealand Threat Classification System. The North and East Atlantic shorelines have seen a decline of the Leafscale Gulper shark population by and estimated 80-90% over a period of three years.
Leafscale Gulper Shark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.