Bigeyed sixgill shark
|Bigeyed sixgill shark|
|Range of bigeyed sixgill shark (in blue)|
The bigeyed sixgill shark, Hexanchus nakamurai, is a cow shark of the family Hexanchidae. Its dorsal surface has a brownish-gray color, and is sharply separated from the light coloring of its ventral surface. The eyes are a fluorescent green while the shark is alive. The body of this shark is small, slim, and fusiform in shape. As the name suggests, this shark has six gill slits, unusual among most shark species. The head is narrow and somewhat flattened, and the mouth contains 5 rows of large, comb-shaped teeth. This shark's single dorsal fin is pushed back towards the caudal fin, and is behind the pelvic fins. The upper caudal fin is much longer than the lower, with a deep notch near the tip. All fins have thin white margins on the edge. In juveniles, the upper caudal fin has a black tip.
Length at Birth: 34–45 cm; Length of Mature Adults: Average for both genders is 1.2 m, maximum is up to 1.8 m; Mature Weight: Around 20 kg
Range and Habitat
Bigeyed sixgills are likely found worldwide. So far they have mainly been found in the Caribbean Sea, the west-central Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the western Pacific Ocean. These sharks live near the sea floor between 90m and 600m, but may move closer to the surface at night to take advantage of the food that gathers there. They make their home on continental shelves, insular shelves, and upper slopes. These sharks do not inhabit abyssal environments.
As with other sharks, bigeyed sixgill sharks harbour a number of parasite species. Monogeneans of the genus Protocotyle (family Hexabothriidae) have been found only on the gills of species of Hexanchus. The species Protomicrocotyle euzetmaillardi Justine, 2011 was recently described from the gills of Hexanchus nakamurai off New Caledonia, South Pacific Ocean.
Little is known about the feeding habits of the bigeyed sixgill. It is thought, based on the few stomach examinations of these sharks, that they mainly feed on small to moderately-sized bony fish and crustaceans. Like all sharks of the order Hexanchiformes found so far, this shark is ovoviviparous, meaning that the eggs are retained inside the body until hatching. The bigeyed sixgill, after an unknown gestation period, gives birth to litters of up to 13 pups. It is very possible, because of the size of this shark, that their main predators are larger sharks.
Like many deepwater animals, the bigeyed sixgill is listed as DD (Data Deficient) by the IUCN Red List. Based on what little we know of the species, it is thought that these sharks are not suffering major hits to their population, but that there is a growing pressure from deepwater fisheries. More research is necessary to determine a specific IUCN rating. According to the International Shark Attack File, the bigeyed sixgill is harmless, as its natural environment is far from people, and there have been no recorded attacks on humans by the species.
- Euzet, L. & Maillard, C. 1974: Les Monogènes Hexabothriidae Price, 1942. Historique, systématique, phylogenèse. Bulletin du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, 3° série, 206, Zoologie 136, 113-141.
- Justine, J.-L. 2011: Protocotyle euzetmaillardi n. sp. (Monogenea, Hexabothriidae) from the bigeye sixgill shark Hexanchus nakamurai Teng (Elasmobranchii, Hexanchidae) off New Caledonia. Systematic Parasitology, 78, 41-55.
- Compagno, Leonardo, Dando, Marc and Fowler, Sarah. Sharks of the World. Princeton University Press. 2005. p. 67-68
- FAO Species Catalogue Volume 4 Parts 1 and 2 Sharks of the World
- "Hexanchus nakamurai". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 6 February 2006.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2006). "Hexanchus nakamurai" in FishBase. 02 2006 version.