Creatures of the Deep: Frilled Shark

We have previously talked about sharks in our Creatures of the Deep series, but now we’re focusing on one particular species that makes the deep sea its home: the frilled shark. They are thought to have inspired sea serpent myths in sailors, and it’s easy to see why. Their appearance is different from other sharks’, with a snake-like body and many rows of teeth.

This interesting creature certainly merits its own time in the spotlight, so take a look at what makes frilled sharks so unique and special:

The Frilled Shark

This species of shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus) can be found in both the Atlantic and the Pacific and it can measure up to 2m. They are considered by many to be a living fossil. This is due to the frilled shark being the only surviving species in its family and because of the many characteristics it seems to share with primordial creatures such as dinosaurs; however, this is still a debated issue, as many other scientists have found these sharks to be similar to modern ones.

The oldest frilled shark fossil dates back to approximately 95 million years, although some researchers believe they are closely related to sharks that lived nearly 300 million years ago. The species was considered to be near threatened, although in 2016 they were downlisted to Least Concern; still, no one knows for sure how many exist.

Appearance and Habitat

The most distinguishing features of the frilled shark are a dark brown body similar to an eel’s, fins placed far back (dorsal, pelvic and anal), and six pairs of frilly gill slits. Frilled sharks have very small teeth, although in large quantities, with each specimen having 25 rows adding up to around 300 teeth in total.

Humans don’t come face-to-face with frilled sharks often, as they prefer to dwell at depths of up to 1,500 metres, although a specimen was found in shallow waters in Japan in 2007. The first observation of this species in its natural habitat, however, was only in 2004, off the southeastern coast of the United States of America.


The feeding habits of frilled sharks are not entirely known, although this species seems to prey on squid and fish and, sometimes, other sharks. Its sharp, inwardly-pointing teeth, as well as its wide jaws, suggest that they can actually go after creatures bigger than them. It is also believed the frilled shark bends its body and lunges forward, just like a snake does.

When it comes to reproduction, these amazing creatures have the longest pregnancy of all vertebrates, with a gestation period that can last up to three and a half years! They are aplacental viviparous, which means the embryos develop in egg capsules inside the mother’s uterus and receive their nutrients from a yolk sac. Frilled sharks can have two to fifteen offspring, each with 40 to 60cm in length.

The frilled shark has a reduced, poorly calcified skeleton that is perfect for the ocean depths; their liver has low-density lipids, which allows them to easily maintain their position in water. They also have an open lateral line, meaning they are more sensitive to movements from their prey.

The frilled shark is a stunning creature that is still relatively unknown to us. Dwelling in the vast depths of the ocean this species of shark is one of the most recognisable ones, mainly because of its unique appearance.

At Offshore Supply, we can supply you with the maritime equipment you need to explore the ocean. While you might not see a frilled shark, there are still countless wonders waiting for you in this magnificent world!