Although these sharks are also known as the Portuguese shark, they’re not just found in Portugal, but worldwide! Portuguese dogfish have a patchy distribution, but they can live pretty much all over the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. This shark is in the Somniosidae family (aka the “Sleeper Shark” family), and only reach up to 1.58 m (5.2 ft). (My height!)
Don’t let their family name fool you -- they’re anything but “sleepy.” In fact, they’re kind of stealthy -- like ninjas! They mostly feed on cephalopods, but some fishies and invertebrates are also in the diet. They are fairly opportunistic!
Portuguese dogfish are a slow-growing shark, and are thought to live up to 70 years. Not much is known about their biology or population(s). We know they are ovoviviparous, and females bear anywhere from five to twenty-nine pups. Their gestation period can be more than a year long, and they are late in becoming sexually mature.
The IUCN Red List assesses Portuguese dogfish as “Near Threatened” and The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) recommends a zero catch of Portuguese sharks. Unfortunately these sharks are often taken for human consumption by commercial fisheries (eastern Atlantic & Japan) through trawl, hook and gillnet. The shark meat is dried or salted for storage, and used to make fishmeal. Not to mention, like other deep-water sharks, these sharks are targeted for their squalene.
What's your favorite fact about this shark?