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Sixgill Shark

Hexanchus griseus

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The Sixgill Shark looks similar to the Broadnose Sevengill Shark. It has a short head with a rounded snout and a slender body that can reach lengths of almost 16 feet (4.9 m). Their mouths are located on the ventral side (underside) of the body and are lined with several rows of comb-like teeth. This shark has only one dorsal fin which is located about two-thirds down the length of the body. One of the shark’s most striking features are its bright green eyes. It has six gill slits (thus its name), which is unusual as most sharks have only five. Because the shark lives at great depths and is a solitary creature, scientists don’t know much about it. It is believed that the shark can be long-lived, attaining an age of 80 years or more.

Range and Habitat

Sixgill Sharks are deep water animals, usually found at depths of up to 6,000 feet (800 m). They hunt mostly along the sea floor for crabs, rays, fish and various crustaceans. Because of this feeding habit, the shark is sometimes called a “mud shark.” The Sixgill Shark can be found in temperate and tropical waters all over the world. Only the “Great White Shark”/explore/species/great-white-shark is believed to have a wider global distribution.

Conservation Status

Threatened. Since they are difficult to find and track, scientists do not have reliable data on the Sixgill Sharks. Because they are heavily fished and have a slow reproductive rate, however, their numbers appear to be in decline worldwide. The Seattle Aquarium is currently undertaking research on this shark species.