A tiny terror: the spined pygmy shark

Not all sharks are huge and terrifying, in fact if you were swimming with the spined pygmy shark (Squaliolus laticaudus) I don’t think you’d realise you were swimming with a shark at all.

But you’d probably still die.

spined pygmy shark face
Photo source: howstuffworks

Growing 15-22cm on average, they’re one of the smallest species of shark known, however they lack completely the appearance and supposed confidence of your typical Jaws or Sharknado shark.

With huge eyes, mouth an upturned smile and their bodies the shape of an exclamation mark lying on its side, grieving the loss of its dot – they basically look like a distressed cigar.

spined pygmy dogfish
Photo source: Wikipedia commons

I argue they only have themselves to blame, as no doubt their scared expression is a result of the black 2000m depths they drop down to during the day. These deep water sharks come only as close to the surface as 200m and that’s at night to feed on squid, lanternfish and lightfish.

So swimming with these sharks would require you to be at least 200m deep, and at night. A situation more likely to see you dead than swimming with a great white considering that 90m is about the limit a human can reach with an aqualung.

Moral of the story, swim with dolphins instead.

Spined pygmy shark
Photo source: discovery uk

photo source

Want a few more facts about these teeny teethies?

–          They’re most easily recognised as having a spine only on the first dorsal fin and none on the second.

–          They’re most commonly found around the U.S.A and the gulf of Mexico, but their geographic range extends from the eastern and western Atlantic ocean to both western regions of the Pacific and Indian Ocean too.

–          The largest pygmy caught was recorded at 27cm long

–          They belong to the squalidae, or dogfish shark family.

I hope you’re now fully aware of both the danger you face when deep sea diving, and the odd existence of the spined pygmy shark. If you’re hungry for more why not read now about the largest shark ever to have lived, MEGALODON.

As always, thanks for reading,

Love O.O


Kiraly, S. J., Moore, J. A., & Jasinski, P. H. (2003). Deepwater and other sharks of the US Atlantic ocean exclusive economic zone. Marine Fisheries Review65(4), 1-20.

Silva, A. A., Duarte, P. C., Giga, A., & Menezes, G. M. (1998). First record of the spined pygmy shark, Squaliolus laticaudus (Smith & Radcliffe, 1912) in the Azores, extending its distribution in the North-eastern Atlantic.

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