Now, don’t be confused with the Dalatiidae family (order: Squaliformes) collectively known as “kitefin sharks.” We’re talking about one specific kitefin shark, Dalatias licha. But, since we mentioned the Dalatiidae family, we might as well talk about these small (no more than 2 m or 6.6 ft), cosmopolitan animals for a quick second. They’re also nicknamed “Cuban cigars” because… well, their body shape is pretty cigar-like.
But… glow-in-the-dark cigars, because like most deep sharks they have bioluminescent organs.
“Or you can use a flashlight to find them.”
I prefer my things to glow in the dark, thanks. I’d have to find a flashlight to find the cigars and that’s just an extra step I’m too lazy to take. Thank goodness I don’t have a penchant for cigars.
Off topic. Whatever.
One more tidbit about these dogfish sharks and we’ll move onto our particular critter; there are seven species in the Dalatiidae family, but five of them are monotypic (so there are no subspecies or smaller, infraspecific taxa).
But yeah, these guys are pretty creative with that whole liver thing so they can cruise around without expending a lot of energy that they can instead use up during feeding. I’m clapping for you, kitefins, I hope you can hear me.
Not that I would want to bump into this shark in a dark crevice or something (hee hee, I’m funny). Their teeth have a strong bite, and I’m small enough to look like a polychaete worm (one of their fave snacks). They enjoy their meals in a solitary fashion, feasting on anything from bony fishes and cephalopods to crustaceans, siphonophores and even sharks and rays. It also likes to take nibbles on things bigger than itself (I mean, who doesn’t? I took a WAY too big bite of a chocolate chip cookie the other day and practically choked). Sound like someone we know? Yeah it does! It’s smaller relative, the cookiecutter shark!
They reproduce through aplacental viviparity, giving birth to about 10-14 pups in a litter. They don’t really interact with humans too much (because of the deepness they reside in and all that), but deep-sea fisheries can lead to overfishing (and since we don’t know much about them or their populations, this can lead to population declines). There is a fishery (commercial) for their meat, skin and oil in Portugal and Japan. Due to this, and their slow reproductive rate, they’re assessed as Near Threatened (NT) by the IUCN.
Is the kitefin shark a new shark to you?
If not, where did you learn about them before?