Striking midnight blue-purple glowing shark with beautiful bands on the tail

Marshas lanternshark (Etmopterus marshae) is a species of shark belonging to the family Etmopteridae. It is a newly classified shark, just recently described by Ebert & Van Hees in 2018. This is a strikingly beautiful shark, black in color with a midnight bluish-purplish hue on the flanks, and light bands on the caudal fin. This shark is also capable of bioluminescence. Read their original description below.


Family: Etmopteridae – Lantern Sharks

Genus: Etmopterus 

Species: marshae


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles



Common NameDogfish Sharks

Family– Etmopteridae

Common NameLantern Sharks




Average Size and Length: Males have been recorded at 234 mm/9.2 inches and females at 192 mm/7.6 inches. It is unknown if these are immature or mature sharks.

Teeth and Jaw: The teeth are dissimilar in the upper and lower jaw. The upper teeth are multicuspid in 3 functional series. The upper teeth are small and perpendicular with a strong central cusp flanked by one or two lateral cusplets on each side, decreasing size distally. The first lateral cusplet is about one-half the height of the central cusp. The second lateral cusp (if present) is much reduced. The functional teeth in the lower jaw are unicuspid in a single series, with at least 2 series of replacement teeth in the upper and lower jaw. The teeth in lower jaw are fused into a single row with a blade-like, oblique, slightly erect cusp. The tooth count in first row of the upper jaw is 30 (30–36) and in the first row of the lower jaw 34 (30–38).

Head: Marsha’s lanternshark has green eyes and a distinguishable whitish cheek blotch.

Denticles: There are linear rows of dermal denticles.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: Marsha’s lanternshark can be found in the western North Pacific in the Philippine Islands. It can be found along the insular slopes between a depth of 1, 056-1,106 feet.

Aesthetic Identification: Marsha’s lanternshark has a small, slim shape, and a dark colored body. There are lighter bands on the caudal fin (but these bands are still very dark), and a dark, almost midnight blueish, purplish and black hued pattern along the flanks. They have bioluminescent photophores on the ventral side of the body. There is a distinct pattern of paired dashes along the upper body and between pectoral and pelvic fins.

Marsha’s lanternshark closely resembles several other sharks. The sharks in its family closely resembled are the Blackbelly Lanternshark or Lucifer SharkEtmopterus lucifer, the Broadsnout Lanternshark– Etmopterus burgessi, the Blackmouth LanternsharkEtmopterus evansi, and the Densescale LanternsharkEtmopterus pycnolepis. One distinguishing trait is the length of anterior and posterior luminescent flank branches are of relatively equal length and are straight, vs. curved anterior flank marking, and relative lengths of the caudal markings.

Biology and Reproduction: Unknown, but presumably ovoviviparous.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

Marsha’s Lanternshark Future and Conservation: Not enough data to evaluate.

Marsha’s Lanternshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.

Ebert, D. A.; Van Hees, K. E. (2018). “Etmopterus marshae sp. nov, a new lanternshark (Squaliformes: Etmopteridae) from the Philippine Islands, with a revised key to the Etmopterus lucifer clade”. Zootaxa. 4508(2): 197-210.