Whenever you think of the word “shark” it may create a giant and fearsome image of an ocean creature that has sharp razor-like teeth. This might be true in the case of some sharks but for all species. What if we tell you about the existence of shark species that are smaller even than the size of human hands?
The smallest known species of shark that lives in the deep extended oceans are Dwarf Lantern Shark. It is the smallest species among the other 7 Lantern sharks. The sharks were first spotted in the Caribbean Sea in 1964. Due to their extremely small size, these sharks are not the main target of the fisherman instead they are accidentally trapped in the fishing net.
Let’s take a deep dive into the extended ocean to reveal more amazing realities about Dwarf Lantern Sharks. Let’s begin the analysis.
What Habitat Do Dwarf Lantern Shark Preferred For Living?
The Dwarf Lantern Shark mostly lives near the floor of the ocean, they are rarely spotted near the shoreline. They prefer to roam in the deepest part of the ocean probably in the benthic zone at the depth of 3,300 to 9,800 feet or 1,000 to 3,000 meters or even more. They are spotted in the coastal waters of Colombia, Barranquilla, Venezuela, Santa Marta, South America, in the Pacific Ocean, Los Testigos Island, near the Guajira Peninsula, and Grenada.
What Do Dwarf Lantern Sharks Physically Look Like?
These species of sharks are the smallest among all the species of sharks that can grow to a maximum length of 6 to 6.8 inches – even smaller than your palm. The long and flattened head of the sharks covers about one-third length of their body. They have large bulgy eyes, giving them clear vision even in the darkness.
They have a dark brownish coloration of the skin, covered with small black spots which give them a distant appearance. The skin is covered with thin needle-like dermal denticles which provide protection. They have 5 pairs of gill slits, pair of caudal fins but no anal fins. They have serrated pointed teeth – 20 to 30 are embedded in the upper jaw and about 30 to 34 are positioned in the lower jaw.
What Are The Unique Adaptations Of A Dwarf Lantern Shark?
The shark bears photophores located on the belly and fins which emits glowing light and chromatophores which allow the sharks to blend with their surroundings. Moreover, the emitted light attracts the small fishes on which Dwarf Lantern Shark feeds. They are carnivorous species that love to have shrimps, krill, zooplanktons, and small fishes on their dining table.
How Does A Dwarf Lantern Shark Do Reproduce?
A Dwarf Lantern Shark are ovoviviparous species – a reproductive method in which internal fertilization leads to the internal development of an embryo. After the incubation period of one year, the female shark gives birth to just 2 to 3 pups that are 2.2 to 2.4 inches in length. Male sharks become sexually mature when they reach 6.3 to 6.9 inches in length whereas females grow to a length of 6.1 inches to become sexually mature. Dwarf Lantern sharks are known to live for about 20 to 30 years.
What Is The Conservational Status Of Dwarf Lantern Shark?
These sharks are tiny in size, so they are not economically or commercially important to human beings. Further, these sharks are not the main target of fishermen but they get accidentally caught as bycatch which may affect the population of sharks as these species have been rarely seen so they are considered “Data Deficient” by IUCN.
The Dwarf Lantern Shark, the smallest species of shark were first spotted in the Caribbean Sea in 1964. These sharks are bottom dwellers that live at the depth of 3,300 to 9,800 feet. Moreover, near the floor of the ocean, they can easily find their food. They are blessed with photophores and chromatophores which help the shark blend with their surroundings and protect them from other predatory animals. These sharks are ovoviviparous species and give birth to 2 to 3 pups that live for 20 to 30 years. However, these species are rarely spotted near the shoreline which is why it has been least studied by researchers.