Small shark with striking black marks and light producing photophores

The Whitefin dogfish (Centroscyllium ritteri) is a species of deep-sea shark belonging to the family Etmopteridae. It has only been found in the northwest Pacific Ocean off the southeastern coast of Japan, between the latitudes of 35 and 32°N.


Family: Etmopteridae – Lantern Sharks

Genus: Centroscyllium

Species: ritteri


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles



Common NameDogfish Sharks

Family– Etmopteridae

Common NameLantern Sharks




Average Size and Length: Mature females have been measured between 1.3-1.4 feet.

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth is broadly arched with comb-like teeth in both jaws. The cusps are narrow.

Head: The head of the Whitefin dogfish is broad and flattened with a somewhat long snout. Very large eyes closer to the snout than the first gill slit. There are spiracles behind the eyes. There are photophores along the underside of the upper eyelids.

Denticles: There are numerous close-set dermal denticles that are hooked and cone-shaped.

Tail: There is a long caudal peduncle. The caudal fin is asymmetrical.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Whitefin dogfish can be found in the northwest Pacific in deep water over continental slopes and seamounts between 1,050-3,610 feet. They have been spotted off the southeastern coast of Japan, between the latitudes of 35 and 32°N.

Aesthetic Identification: The Whitefin dogfish has an elongated body and is grey-brown above. It is the only shark in its genus with striking markings on the underside of the head, abdomen and pectoral fins. These appear to be a concentration of photophores. There is a black stripe beneath the caudal peduncle that extends over the pelvic bases. The fins have white margins. The first dorsal fin is low and rounded with a short spine. The second dorsal fin is about the same size but less rounded with a moderately long spine that reaches above the fin apex.

Biology and Reproduction: Unknown, but presumably ovoviviparous.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

Whitefin Dogfish Future and Conservation: Not evaluated. No interest to fisheries.

Whitefin Dogfish Recorded Attacks on Humans: not a threat to humans.