The bramble shark (Echinorhinus brucus) in the family Echinorhinidae. The name Echinorhinus is Greek; echinos meaning "sea urchin, hedgehog" and rhinos meaning "nose." The bramble sharks have a few nicknames: "mango-tara," "spinous shark," and "spiny shark" are some. This family of sharks are rare and poorly-known.
It’s one of two species in this family and is commonly found in tropical/temperate waters (with the exception of it being found in the east Pacific). They are bottom dwellers, found in pretty deep waters (400-900 m or 1,300-3,000 ft). They are known to swim in shallow waters, too.
This shark is small and stout, with its small dorsal fins far back; this shark lacks an anal fin. They have a flat head and flap-like nostrils.The most characteristic feature of this shark is its large and flat, thorn-like dermal denticles, some which fuse together. They don’t have nictitating membranes. If you ever catch one of these sharks in a deep trawl, watch out! They are covered in a smelly mucus.
This shark is a purple-brown/black colour, and usually, only gets up to 3.1 m (10ft) long. There is a report of one specimen that had a greenish glow when freshly caught.
This sounds a lot like the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus), no? Well, many people have confused them! There are a few differences, though. First, in their dorsal fin: it’s more forward in the Greenland shark than the Bramble shark. Second, they have a different tail shape. Third, Bramble sharks have thorn-like denticles and Greenland sharks do not. Bramble sharks also have larger gills and their teeth are similar in both jaws.
They are sluggish sharks, and, like many others, like to dine on crabs, bony fishes and smaller sharks. It has a large pharynx compared to its mouth, which may suggest that they catch their prey via suction.
They are aplacental viviparous (ovoviviparous), and the females have two ovaries and uteruses. Litter sizes can measure from 15 to 52. The reproductive cycle and gestation period are unknown for this species.
They are harmless to humans, as they are rarely seen. They are occasionally caught as bycatch for commercial/recreational fishers, and may be used for their liver oil (highly valued in South Africa for medicinal uses) and as fishmeal.
The IUCN lacks the necessary information to assess its status, yet it is predicted that their population has declined due to overfishing since the 18th century. These deep sea sharks have slow growth rates, but long life spans. It is assessed as Data Deficient (DD).
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