Frill Shark, Chlamydoselachus anguineus Click to enlarge image
This Frill Shark specimen was collected at a depth of 400m off Eden, New South Wales in November 1998. It was sent to the Australian Museum by the Fisheries Inspectors at the office in Eden. The specimen is now in the Australian Museum Fish Collection (registration number AMS I.39050-001). Image: Carl Bento
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    anguineus
    Genus
    Chlamydoselachus
    Family
    Chlamydoselachidae
    Order
    Hexanchiformes
    Class
    Chondrichthyes
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to a maximum length of about 2 m.

Introduction

The Frill Shark has a long slender eel-like body and a large mouth. It lives in continental slope waters where it feeds in caves and crevices.



What do Frill Sharks look like?

Identification

The Frill Shark can be recognised by its slender eel-like body, six pairs of gill slits, terminal mouth, three-pronged teeth, single dorsal fin, caudal fin without a lower lobe, and brown colour.

The jaws can be opened very wide. Little effort was required to open the mouth wide enough to take the photographs of the upper and lower jaws on this page.

The Frill Shark's teeth at the margins of the jaw are gradually replaced by those behind. The teeth have three long cusps with a tiny cusplet at the base of each "V" formed by the the large cusps.

Chlamydoselachus anguineus is the only living species in the Family Chlamydoselachidae found in Australia. A second species in this family was described in 2009 found off the coast of South Africa Chlamydoselachus africana.



Where do Frill Sharks live?

Habitat

Very patchily distributed in Atlantic and Pacific oceanic waters at depths from 120 m to 1500 m, but more typically from 500-1000 m. They are very rare and found near off shore shelves and upper continental slopes


Distribution

In Australia, the species has been caught from off New South Wales ,Tasmania and in the Tasman Sea. They are occasionally caught as bycatch.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.



How do Frill Sharks mate and what do they eat?

Breeding behaviours

During mating, one clasper is inserted into the body of the female Frill Shark to facilitate sperm transfer. Frill Sharks are approximately 39-60cm when born in litters of 2-15 pups.

The young are developed from eggs that hatch inside the female (ovovivparious) after a gestation period of over 1 year. Males mature at about 92-163cm TL while females mature at 130-135cmTL, they grow to approximately 196cm TL.


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Feeding and diet

According to Last and Stevens (1994), the few stomach contents that have been examined included other elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) and squid. The species has been reported to feed in caves and crevices on the continental slope.


Frill Shark, Chlamydoselachus anguineus

A Frill Shark collected at a depth of 400m, off Eden, New South Wales in November 1998. It was sent to the Australian Museum by Fisheries Inspectors at the Eden office. The specimen is now in the Australian Museum Fish Collection (AMS I.39050-001).

Image: Carl Bento
© Australian Museum

References

  1. Ebert, D.A., Fowler, S., Compagno, L., 2016. Sharks of the World, Wild Nature Press, pages 1-528
  2. Bray, D.J. 2017, Chlamydoselachus anguineus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 05 Aug 2022, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3419
  3. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  4. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO. Pp. 513, Pl. 1-84.
  5. Stevens, J. & P.R. Last in Paxton, J.R. & W.N. Eschmeyer (Eds). 1994. Encyclopedia of Fishes. Sydney: New South Wales University Press. Pp. 240.