The Sharpnose Sevengill Shark is a species of shark in the family Hexanchidae, and the only species in the genus Heptranchias. Found almost circumglobally in deep water, it is one of the few species of shark with seven pairs of gill slits as opposed to the usual five. Though small, this shark is an active, voracious predator of invertebrates and fishes. When caught, this species is notably aggressive and will attempt to bite. It is of minor commercial importance.

Description Edit

Usually measuring 60–120 cm (2.0–3.9 ft) long, sharpnose sevengill sharks attain a maximum length of 1.4 m (4.6 ft). This species has a slender, fusiform body with a narrow, pointed head. The eyes are very large and fluoresce green in live specimens. The mouth is narrow and strongly curved, containing 9-11 teeth on either side of the upper jaw and 5 teeth on either side of the lower. The upper teeth are narrow and hook-shaped with small lateral cusps, while the lower teeth are broad and comb-shaped (except for a symmetrical symphysial tooth). Unlike most other sharks, there are seven pairs of gill slits that extend onto the throat.

There is only a single small dorsal fin located behind the pelvic fins, with a straight front margin, narrowly rounded tip, and concave rear margin. The pectoral fins are small with a weakly convex outer margin. The anal fin is small with nearly straight margins. The caudal peduncle is long, and the distance between the dorsal fin origin and the caudal fin is more than twice the dorsal fin base. The closely overlapping dermal denticles are very thin and transparent; each is longer than it is broad, bearing a distinct median ridge and two lateral ridges ending in marginal teeth. The coloration is brownish gray to olive above and lighter below; some individuals have dark blotches on the body or light posterior fin margins. Juveniles have dark blotches on the flank and dark tips on the dorsal fin and upper caudal lobe.

Habitat Edit

This is a demersal to semi-pelagic species usually captured at a depth of 300–600 m (980–2,000 ft), but is occasionally found close to the surface (though these reports may represent misidentifications) or down to 1,000 m (3,300 ft). It is mainly found on the outer continental shelf and upper continental slope, and may aggregate around seamounts.

Food Edit

At the Great Meteor Seamount in the eastern Atlantic, this species feeds primarily on teleosts and cephalopods, and to a lesser extent on small cartilaginous fishes. Off Tunisia, crustaceans are the second-most common prey taken after teleosts. Off Australia, this species consumes mostly teleosts, with smaller individuals taking mainly Lepidorhynchus denticulatus and larger individuals taking increasing numbers of snake mackerels and cutlassfishes.

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