Portuguese Shark

Centroscymnus coelolepsis

Type of Shark Portuguese Shark
Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Overview — The Portuguese shark holds the world record for the deepest caught shark. Most individuals live at around 3,000 feet below the surface but, since multiple captures have been made at around 8,920, it is likely that the shark may even go deeper on occasion.

Its name is somewhat of a misnomer, since the shark is not only found near Portugal. The Portuguese shark’s range extends throughout the western and eastern North Atlantic, and also includes parts of the Mediterranean Sea, the Pacific Ocean near New Zealand and waters off the coast of Japan.

Usually this shark grows to about 4 feet in length, with no anal fin and two small dorsal fins. Small fins seem to be a characteristic of deepwater sharks, giving them a more standard fishlike appearance.

Feeding Habits — Portuguese sharks most often consume bottom-dwelling fishes, sea snails, slugs, cowries, limpets, squids and octopuses. This species is also an active scavenger. It mostly hunts at night, using its unique teeth to pick off prey. Its upper teeth have a long and pointed shape, while the lower set is broader in shape. The teeth design suggests that the shark first pierces into prey, as though holding it with a dinner fork, before biting down on the victim.

Cool Fact — Female Portuguese sharks can give birth to up to 29 young at a time.

Common Max Depth — 8,920 feet

MORE SHARKS: Greenland Shark | Sand Tiger Shark | Whale Shark | ALL SHARKS

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