The prickly shark (Echinorhinus cookei) goes by a variety of nicknames: Cooks bramble shark, bramble shark, Cooke's shark, prickle shark, spinous shark, and the spiny shark. Why exactly is this animal called “prickly”? Well, they have quite a lot of thorn-like denticles all over their body – may look like the bramble sharks, as they are one of the two species of Echinorhinus around Australia! A grey-brown colour all around, with a darker colour around the fins and sometimes under the snout. Around the mouth is usually a white colour. And while they have two equally sized dorsal fins… #Finfact: The prickly shark lacks an anal fin!
Found all around the Pacific Ocean, you can see them around Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Palau, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Chile, Peru, Taiwan, China and Hawaii and California. How can you two the two Echinorhinus species apart? The Bramble Shark, Echinorhinus brucus, has fewer spike-y denticles on their body.
The prickly shark grows to 4 metres in length. It lives between 11 metres and 580 metres deep (usually over 70 metres) in tropical and temperate waters. Here, they prefer to hunt for their prey (fish, including sharks and rays, and some cephalopods) on the soft, sandy sea beds of insular and continental shelves. These sharks are thought to be viviparous with yolk sac. IUCN has assessed these animals as Near Threatened (NT) due to them being caught as bycatch in deep-sea fisheries; increased fishing pressure may be hurting a small fragmented population with low resilience to this kind of pressure.
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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