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Mitsukurina owstoni:   (click for more)

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  • Odontaspis nasutus  de Braganza, 1904: 49, 104, pl. 1, figs. 1-1c. Type locality, Mare de Sezimbra, Portugal, 603 m. Types unknown according to Eschmeyer (1998).
  • Scapanorhynchus jordani  Hussakof, 1909: 257, text-figs., pl. 44. Syntypes (2): American Museum of Natural History, AMNH-00004SW, jaws, model on display from 1 300 mm female; 1 155 mm female, formerly in the Zoological Department at Columbia University. Type locality, Japan.
  • Scapanorhynchus dofleini  Engelhardt, 1912: 644. Holotype: Zoologischen Staatssammlung München, 2 100 mm female, Mayegawa, Sagami Sea, Japan. Locality of holotype unknown according to Eschmeyer (1998: CD-ROM).
  • Scapanorhynchus mitsukurii  White, 1937: 29 (error for Mitsukurina owstoni Jordan, 1898). Japan.
    Other Combinations:  Scapanorhynchus owstoni (Jordan, 1898).
    FAO Names
    En - Goblin shark, Fr - Requin lutin, Sp - Tiburón duende.
    3Alpha Code: LMO     Taxonomic Code: 1060301201
    Scientific Name with Original Description
    Mitsukurina owstoni  Jordan, 1898, Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci. ser. 3 (Zool.), 1: 200, pls. 11-12. Holotype: Zoological Museum, University of Tokyo, 107 cm immature male, near Yokohama, Japan, in deep water. Holotype lost, according to Eschmeyer (1998, Cat. Fish.: CD-ROM).
    Diagnostic Features
    fieldmarks: This unmistakable shark has a flat blade-like elongated snout, tiny eyes without nictitating eyelids, soft flabby body, slender very long-cusped teeth in long highly protrusable jaws, two spineless dorsals and an anal fin, and a long caudal fin without a ventral lobe. Colour: live and newly-captured individuals are pinkish white, but usually fade to brownish in alcohol.

    Head as long as trunk or slightly shorter. Snout greatly elongated, blade-like and flattened.  Eyes small, length 1.0 to 2.4% of precaudal length.  Gill openings short, length of first 4.6 to 5.9% of precaudal length, not extending onto dorsal surface of head; all gill openings anterior to pectoral-fin bases; no gill rakers on internal gill slits.  Mouth large, parabolic, ventral on head; jaws strongly protrusable to about opposite snout tip but not greatly distensible laterally.  Teeth large, anteriors and laterals very narrow and awl-like, in 35 to 53/31 to 62 (66 to 115 total) rows; three rows of large anterior teeth on each side of upper and lower jaws, the uppers separated from the smaller upper lateral teeth by a gap without intermediate teeth; a pair of lower symphysial teeth present.  Trunk compressed and moderately slender, very soft and flabby. Caudal peduncle compressed and without keels or precaudal pits. Dermal denticles small and rough, with erect spike-like crowns with narrow cusps and ridges; cusps of lateral denticles pointing perpendicular to surface of skin.  Pectoral fins short and broad, much shorter than head in adults; pectoral skeleton aplesodic with radials confined to fin bases. Pelvic fins large, larger than dorsal fins; fin skeleton aplesodic. Dorsal fins small, low, and rounded, or semi-angular, first and second dorsals equal-sized and smaller than the large, rounded anal fin; first dorsal skeleton aplesodic. Second dorsal and anal fins with broad, nonpivoting bases. Caudal fin not lunate, dorsal lobe long but half length of rest of shark or less, ventral lobe not developed.  Neurocranium low, with a greatly elongated compressed rostrum, depressed internasal septum and widespread nasal capsules, small orbits with the supraorbital crests reduced to isolated preorbital and postorbital processes, tiny stapedial foramina, and with hyomandibular facets not extended outward. Vertebral centra strongly calcified, with well-developed double cones and radii but no annuli. Total vertebral count 122 to 125, precaudal count 53 to 56, diplospondylous caudal count 68 to 69.  Intestinal valve of ring type with 19 turns. 
    Geographical Distribution

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    Western Atlantic: Guiana, Surinam, French Guyana. Eastern Atlantic: France (Bay of Biscay), Madeira, Portugal, Senegal, Gulf of Guinea, South Africa (Western Cape). Western Indian Ocean: South Africa (Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal), Mozambique (Mozambique seamount range). Western Pacific: Japan, Australia (South Australia, New South Wales), New Zealand. Eastern Pacific: USA (southern California).
    Habitat and Biology
    A poorly known, bottom-dwelling shark that inhabits the outer continental shelves and upper slopes and is found off seamounts, but rarely occurs at the surface or in shallow water close inshore.Most records are on or near the continental slopes between 270 and 960 m deep but down to at least 1 300 m, sometimes in shallower shelf waters at 95 to 137 m. Seamount records suggest that the species is oceanic or semioceanic in addition to its known occurrences off continental slopes.

    Very little is known of the biology of this bizarre shark, which is rare in most places where it is known apart from Japan and possibly Portugal. The long flexible caudal fin, without a ventral lobe, the soft, flabby body, and small, soft paired and unpaired fins, suggest that the goblin shark is a relatively inactive, slow swimming species with a density close to seawater. Its remarkable blade-like snout is superficially similar to those of the chondrostean paddlefishes (Polyodontidae), and like these fishes may use it as a forward-projecting prey detector.Its slender, pick-like anterior and lateral teeth suggests small, soft-bodied prey including fishes, shrimp and squid, and one specimen was found with fish remains in its stomach. As in Carcharias taurus, the posterior teeth of the goblin shark are modified for crushing.

    The jaws of the goblin shark are highly specialized for rapid projection from the head as in some mesopelagic teleosts, propelled in part by a double set of elastic tensioning ligaments at the mandibular joints. The first set of ligaments are at the hinge joint between the ceratohyal head and Meckel's cartilage on each side; and the second set extends across the head of the hyomandibula in a cavity between the ceratohyal and Meckel's cartilage on each side. The ligaments are stretched when the jaws are retracted rearward into the mouth but are relaxed when the jaws are shot forward, and apparently function (along with the long preorbitalis muscles) like a catapult to project the jaws forward and snap up small animals.

    This shark is often illustrated and preserved with the jaws more or less protruded but a live goblin shark in captivity in the Marine Science Museum, Tokai University, Shimizu, Japan, held its jaws tightly retracted while swimming (Shiobara, 1990, Y. Shiobara, pers. comm. and photographs).Early catch records (Bean, 1905) suggested that mature females visited the east coast of Honshu during the springtime only.
    Mode of reproduction unknown; a pregnant female has never been reported. 
    Maximum total length at least 384 cm. Size at birth unknown, smallest recorded specimen 107 cm; mature males 264, 320 and 384 cm, females reaching 373 cm, one mature at 335 cm. Weight 210 kg at 384 cm.
    Interest to Fisheries
    Interest to fisheries minimal, taken as untargeted bycatch of deepwater trawl fisheries and occasionally taken with deepwater longlines, deep-set gill nets, and possibly purse seines. Utilized dried-salted for human consumption.

    Conservation Status : Conservation status unknown.
    Local Names
    Portugal : Nasuta .
    Japan : Elphin ,  Elfin shark ,  Japanese goblin shark ,  Tenguzame ,  Tengu (goblin) shark ,  Mitsukurizame ,  Mitsukuri's shark .
    South Africa : Kabouterhaai .
    Threat to humans: Harmless to people. A spectacular aquarium exhibit, but seldom kept in captivity; one lived for a week in an aquarium at Tokai University, Shimizu, Japan.
    Source of Information
    Sharks of the world An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Volume 2 Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks (Heterodontiformes, Lamniformes and Orectolobiformes). Leonard J.V. Compagno 2001.  FAO Species Catalogue for Fishery Purposes. No. 1, Vol. 2. Rome, FAO. 2001. p.269.
    Bass, D'Aubrey & Kistnasamy, 1975a
    Bean, 1905
    Bigelow & Schroeder, 1948
    Cadenat & Blache, 1981
    Compagno, 1984
    Compagno, Ebert & Cowley, 1991
    Compagno, Ebert & Smale, 1989
    D.A. Ebert (pers. comm.)
    Davison & van Berkel, 1985
    Fowler, 1941
    Garman, 1913
    Hussakof, 1909
    J.D. Stevens (pers. comm.)
    J. Ugoretz (pers. comm.)
    Jordan, 1898
    Last & Stevens, 1994
    P. Duarte (pers. comm.)
    Piotrovsky & Prut'ko, 1980
    Quero, 1984
    Shcherbachev, 1987
    Shinohara & Matsuura, 1997
    Shiobara, 1990
    Springer, 1990
    Stead, 1963
    Stevens & Paxton, 1985
    Uyeno, Matsuura & Fujii, 1983
    Uyeno, Nakamura & Mikami, 1976
    Y. Shiobara (pers. comm.)
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