How long do they live? 70 years old or longer based on otolith annuli rings [1], but these estimates may be greatly underestimated since it is unknown if Leafscale gulper sharks develop rings annually. This species is on the decline thanks to trawl fishing.  Many species can be saved from decline by people willing to do a little research on where their fish oil comes from. People could stop eating shark fin soup as well, if for no other reason than it’s an absolutely barbaric practice. If you’re not certain how shark fin soup is acquired, here let me show you. And if you’re wondering how a shark can swim without fins, it can’t. They slowly suffocate while writhing in pain.

Figure 1. If ever you need to be reminded of which species on this planet is the most barbaric, then look no further on Google than Homo sapiens.

Where are they found? Sometimes pictures are a lot easier. See figure 2 below. Leafscale gulper sharks can be found at depths over 7,800 feet [2].

Figure 2. Range of Centrophorus squamosus.

What do they eat? Human skin soup, it’s supposedly great for increasing fertility while decreasing empathy. No, but really, they eat fish and cephalopods [3].

What do they look like? The maximum length recorded is a little over 5 feet long [2], so they don’t grow to be massive like some sharks. They do have an interesting skin pattern, which may be how they earned the name  Leafscale gulper shark.

Figure 3. Artist rendition of a Leafscale gulper shark.
Figure 4. Differing species of gulper sharks.
Figure 5. Did I mention it’s not all that easy to find shareable pictures of live gulper sharks?

How do they reproduce? Leafscale gulper sharks are ovoviviparous and the give birth to around 5 to 8 pups per litter [2].  Sexual maturity is reached by 3.2 feet in length and 4 feet in length in females and males respectively [4], but that doesn’t clarify how old they are when they reach maturity.

How do scientists know how old they are? Otolith annuli age estimations [1], which are usually low estimates.

So what are we lacking? We need sexual maturity data, reproductive senescence and nuclear genome information.

Conservation status: Vulnerable and declining [4].

  1. Clarke, M. W., P. L. Connolly, and J. J. Bracken. “Age estimation of the exploited deepwater shark Centrophorus squamosus from the continental slopes of the Rockall Trough and Porcupine Bank.” Journal of Fish Biology 60.3 (2002): 501-514.
  2. Fishbase.org. Centrophorus squamosus. Accessed 3/1/2017 http://www.fishbase.org/summary/Centrophorus-squamosus.html
  3. Ebert, D. A., L. J. V. Compagno, and P. D. Cowley. “A preliminary investigation of the feeding ecology of squaloid sharks off the west coast of southern Africa.” South African Journal of Marine Science 12.1 (1992): 601-609.
  4. White, W.T. (SSG Australia & Oceania Regional Workshop, March 2003). 2003. Centrophorus squamosus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2003