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Kitefin Sharks


Average Size –  Most sharks in this family are under 6ft with an average of 4ft

Kitefin Sharks have a slender body with a short, blunt snout, large eyes and thick lips and are brown or blackish in color. Often referred to as “Cigar Shaped.” They have very different teeth between the top and bottom jaws with the top being small and narrow and the lower larger and triangular in shape.

The most notable is likely the Cookiecutter Shark, known for their unique mouth and bite marks.

They live in tropical and temperate waters of the Northern Atlantic and in the Western and Central areas of the Mediterranean Sea. It can also be found in the Indian Ocean. They are most commonly found in depths of 200-600 meters(650-2400ft.)  This family prefers outer continental shelves and upper continental slopes.

Bony Fish, Sharks, Rays, Cephalopods, Crustaceans, Polychaete Worms.

They have a large oil-filled liver allowing them to cruise through the water slowly and without using little energy.

They are strong predators with a powerful bite and large teeth and will sometimes take bites out of prey larger than itself. Cookiecutters have been known, on rare occasions, to take a nibble at a human, though they are not considered dangerous to us.

There are 10 living species across 8 Genera:

  • Dalatias
    • Dalatias licha (kitefin shark)
  • Euprotomicroides
    • Euprotomicroides (tail-light shark)
  • Euprotomicrus
    • Euprotomicrus bispinatus (pygmy shark)
  • Heteroscymnoides
    • Heteroscymnoides marleyi (longnose pygmy shark)
  • Isistius
    • Isistius brasiliensis (cookiecutter shark)
    • Isistius plutodus (largetooth cookiecutter shark)
  • Mollisquama
    • Mollisquama parini (pocket shark)
    • Mollisquama mississippiensis (pocket shark)
  • Squaliolus
    • Squaliolus aliae (smalleye pygmy shark)
    • Squaliolus laticaudus (spined pygmy shark)

It (Kitefin) is the largest bioluminescent vertebrae discovered.

They are considered vulnerable due to human exploitation for their meat, oil and skin.

Kitefin Shark Graphic
By CSIRO National Fish Collection -, CC BY 3.0,
Cookiecutter Shark Featured
Rob Zugaro / Museums Victoria. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial
Kitefin Shark Gallery
By asobi tsuchiya - deepseashark25, CC BY 2.0,
Spined Pygmy Shark Gallery
By SEFSC Pascagoula Laboratory; Collection of Brandi Noble, NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC -, Public Domain,