Animal of the Week: Frilled Shark
By Sara Umbrell, Art Director
Say hello to Chlamydoselachus anguineus, otherwise known as the frilled shark! These guys belong to the order Hexanchiformes, which contains ancient frill and cow sharks. What differentiates them is that frilled sharks have a single dorsal fin and six or seven gill slits, compared to the five that are found in other species. Currently there are two known species, the frilled shark and the South African frilled shark, which are usually found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans ranging from depths of 50 to 200 meters. Frilled sharks are eel-like and grow up to two meters in length. They are usually a dark brown or gray in color, and often have a white underbelly. Their heads are flat and broad, with short, rounded snouts. Similar to a cat they have horizontal oval-shaped eyes. Frilled sharks also have thick skin folds that run along their underside that are thought to help with prey digestion by allowing for expansion of the stomach. Their prey consists mostly of slow-moving squid, other sharks, and bony fish.
Unfortunately, not much is known about these sharks. They were first sighted in 2004 by a fisherman in Japan who saw one floating on the surface. They are classified as near threatened, and due to their relatively small size often end up as by-catch in fishing trawls. Their status is predicted to become vulnerable in the near future, and as fishing industries expand their likelihood of accidental catch rises. Once caught they are either discarded or used as meat or fishmeal. Hopefully more can be learned about this elusive species so that they can be better protected.