Sharpnose sevengill shark - Heptranchias perlo


Illustrations © Marc Dando

Sharpnose sevengill shark, juvenile

This shark has an acutely pointed head and seven pairs of gill slits. It has a narrow mouth and large eyes.

The young shark has a black blotch on the tip of its dorsal fin and upper caudal lobe, but these markings fade or are absent in adults.

At birth, the pups are 10.23 to10.62 inches [26 to 27 cm] in length. Males mature at approximately 2.6 ft [80 cm] in length, while females mature at approximately 3.3 ft [100 cm]. Their maximum length is 4.6 ft [139 cm].

Five rows of comb-shaped teeth in their lower jaw.

These are mainly deepwater sharks found from depths of 88.6 to 2362.2 ft [27 to 720 m], but no deeper than 3280.8 ft [1000 m]. The sharks prefer continental and island shelves and upper slopes, but occasionally venture into shallower water close inshore. They are benthic and epibenthic, and may also swim well off the bottom of the ocean.

These sharks are wide-ranging but patchily distributed in tropical and temperate seas, but not in the northeast Pacific.


  • Prey – Small to moderately large demersal and pelagic fishes, small sharks, crustaceans, squid, and cuttlefish.

  • Reproduction – Ovoviviparous, with 6-20 pups per litter. They apparently reproduce all year round.

Poorly known. They are probably strong, active swimmers, and will bite when captured.

They are near-threatened and relatively uncommon. They are bycatch in bottom trawl and longline fishers, which may have caused their populations declines. They are occasionally kept in aquaria.