velvet dogfish

A deep-water and epipelagic velvety-looking Sleeper shark that could possibly glow in the dark

The Velvet dogfish (Zameus squamulosus) is a harmless Sleeper shark of the family Somniosidae, found around the world between latitudes 64°N and 48°S, from the surface to 4,757 feet. The Velvet dogfish is epipelagic and oceanic in some locations.


Family: Somniosidae – Sleeper sharks

Genus: Zameus 

Species: squamulosus


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles



Common NameDogfish Sharks

Family– Somniosidae

Common NameSleeper Sharks




Average Size and Length: Adult male Velvet Dogfish are between 1.6 and 1.7 feet. Females range between 1.9 and 2.3 feet. The longest recorded was claimed to be 2.8 feet.  

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth of the Velvet dogfish is short and narrow. The post oral grooves are much longer than the short upper labial furrows. The upper teeth are small, and spear-like. The lower teeth are knife-like with high cusps.

Head: The head of the Velvet dogfish is low and flat. It has a long, narrow snout.

Denticles: The dermal denticles of the Velvet dogfish are tricuspidate with transverse ridges.

Tail: The tail is long. It has a strong subterminal notch with a short lower lobe.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Velvet dogfish can be found worldwide, but patchy. They are not found in the east Pacific. They can be found on continental and insular slopes on or near the bottom from 1,804 and 4,757 feet.

The Velvet dogfish is epipelagic and oceanic off of Brazil at 0-1,903 feet in water that is 6,562 feet deep, and in the Hawaiian Islands at 89-115 feet in water that is 13,123- 19,685 feet deep.

Aesthetic Identification: The Velvet dogfish is black in color. It is small and slender. There are two dorsal fins with small fin spines. The second dorsal fin is larger, and the same size as the small, pelvic fins. It also may glow in the dark.

Biology and Reproduction: Research suggests the Velvet dogfish is ovoviviparous. Although sharks within the family Somniosidae have generally been accepted to be non-luminous, the Velvet dogfish has photophores on its ventral epidermis, suggesting the Velvet dogfish could possibly glow in the dark, this could explain why this dogfish is epipelagic.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

Velvet Dogfish Shark Future and Conservation: They aren’t evaluated. They are a minor bycatch from bottom fisheries. There meat is dried and salted for food, or used as fishmeal.

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