Great lanternshark (Etmopterus princeps)

Great lanternshark, studied for scientific purposes
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Great lanternshark fact file

Great lanternshark description

GenusEtmopterus (1)

This poorly known inhabitant of the ocean depths belongs to a genus typically referred to as the ‘lantern sharks’, on account of the number of species exhibiting tiny light-producing organs on the sides of their body (3) (4). Small and stout bodied, the great lanternshark is generally blackish-brown in colour and possesses hooked denticles resembling tiny teeth on its skin (2) (3). The caudal fin is very broad and like other lantern sharks, the two dorsal fins are each preceded by a single grooved spine, the second of which is large and strongly curved (3). In adaptation to the low light levels of its deepwater environment, the great lanternshark has large, sensitive eyes (4).

Rough Sagre, Sagre Rude.
Tollo Lucero Raspa.
Max length: 89 cm (2)

Great lanternshark biology

Like many other deepwater shark species, very little is known about the biology of the great lanternshark (1). However, examinations of the stomach contents of trawled catches indicate that it mainly feeds on fish, cephalopods and crustaceans (2).


Great lanternshark range

The available evidence indicates that the great lanternshark only occurs in the North and East Central Atlantic, however, there have been unconfirmed reports of this species in the Western Pacific (1) (3).


Great lanternshark habitat

This deepwater species typically occurs on or near the bottom of the continental slope from depths of 350 to 2,213 metres, but has also been recorded down to 4,500 metres (1) (3).


Great lanternshark status

Classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Data Deficient


Great lanternshark threats

The great lanternshark is caught as bycatch by deepwater trawlers over much of its range, but owing to the paucity of information on the species and the overall lack of fisheries information, the status of this species is unknown (1).


Great lanternshark conservation

Given the dearth of species level information, the conservation priority for the great lanternshark is to conduct further research into its biology and ecology, and the extent to which it is being impacted upon by deepwater fisheries (1).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

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In the fishing industry, the part of the catch made up of non-target species.
Caudal fin
The tail fin of a fish.
From the Greek for ‘head-foot', a class of molluscs that occur only in marine habitats. All species have grasping tentacles, and either an internal or external shell. Includes nautiloids, cuttlefish, squids, octopuses, and extinct ammonites and belemnites.
Diverse group of arthropods (a phylum of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton) characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (parts of the mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, slaters, woodlice and barnacles.
In some fish, modified scales that resemble teeth.
Dorsal fins
In fish, the unpaired fin(s) found on the back of the body.


  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2009)
  2. Jakobsdottir, K.B. (2001) Biological aspects of two deep-water squalid sharks: Centroscyllium fabricii (Reinhardt, 1825) and Etmopterus princeps (Collett, 1904) in Icelandic waters. Fisheries Research, 51: 247 - 265.
  3. Compagno, L.J.V. (1984) FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 4: Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Part 1: Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
  4. Campbell, A. and Dawes, J. (2004) Encyclopedia of Underwater Life. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Image credit

Great lanternshark, studied for scientific purposes  
Great lanternshark, studied for scientific purposes

© Alexei Orlov

Alexei Orlov


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