Velvet Belly Lanternshark Images in
the Shark Picture Database
Velvet Belly Lanternshark, Velvet
Etmopteridae - Lantern sharks.
A small, redish brown shark with
metallic-looking skin. Belly blackédark and non-reflective. Fins small and
bluish-grey with dark mottling at bases and along trailing edge of caudal fin.
Both dorsal fins have thin fin-spines on their leading edges. Second dorsal
fin-spine longer than first.
Snout wide and rounded. Distinct line of ampulae of lorenzini on forehead from
tip of snout, extending backwards above each eye. Two parallel lines of ampulae
on underside of snout converge near the mouth.
Upper teeth small with one narrow central cusp and up to three pairs of lateral
cusplets. Lower teeth larger with a slanted blade-like cusp and interlocking
Eyes large and round. Spiracles small. Five small gill
Maximum recorded length 41cm. Unconfirmed to 60cm. 9-14cm at birth.
Silt, sand or rocky substrates on continental shelves. Sometimes well above the
Listed as occurring from 70m to 2000m but juveniles (and possibly adults) enter
shallow water (35m) in Norwegian fiords where sunlight is blocked by surface
Northeastern Atlantic Ocean. Common in deep water around Norway, Iceland
and the British Isles.
Also present in the western Mediterranean and along the west coast of Africa as
far south as Gabon.
Diet and feeding behavior:
Juveniles feed mostly on krill and small invertebrates. Adults prefer bony
fishes, squid and crustaceans.
1-21 pups per litter.
Listed as LEAST CONCERN by the IUCN.
A non-commercial species, all specimens captured as bycatch by commercial
fishing vessels are discarded thus limiting the data available. Data from the
Mediterranean Sea, Eastern Central and South Atlantic indicate that the species
is still relatively commonly caught in scientific trawl surveys and there is no
evidence that the population has declined there. A recently introduced ban on
bottom trawling below 1,000 m depth in the Mediterranean Sea will afford it
protection there. Deepwater fisheries also operate off the coast of western
Africa, but these are relatively limited at this time. However, deepwater
fisheries are intense in the Northeast Atlantic and scientific trawl surveys
indicate that catch rates of this species declined by approaching 20% between
the 1970s and 19982004. This species shows size structure segregation with
depth. The deeper-occurring larger mature female sharks are probably more
affected by the commercial deepwater fisheries operating in the Northeast
Atlantic than the immature stages that are found in shallower waters.
An assessment of Near Threatened is warranted in the Northeast Atlantic,
given the apparent decline and continued, intense deepwater fishing pressure.
Elsewhere and globally, the species is assessed as Least Concern because there
is no evidence for population decline throughout the rest of its range and there
are areas of refuge from fishing pressure. Continued monitoring is required to
ensure that this species is not detrimentally affected by expanding deepwater
fisheries in the future, particularly in the Eastern Central and Southeast
Namsen Fiord, Norway.
The velvet belly lanternshark is similar to two other
lanternsharks that broadly overlap its home range:
Smooth Lanternshark - Etmopterus pusillus - has a more laterally pointed snout
and no black areas on its belly.
Great Lanternshark - Etmopterus princeps - much larger and more robust. Snout is
Reaction to divers:
Nonchalant around divers in baited situations. Velvet belly
sharks are relatively easy to attract to bait. Once in the area and fixated on
the food, they often stay within a few meters of divers even when caught in the
beam of powerful lights.
Velvet bellies can be found in Namsen Fiord and various other Norwegian fiords
where runoff causes a murky layer at the surface which prevents daylight from
reaching deep water.
Big Fish Expeditions runs yearly deep water shark trips in Norway each
September. During these trips, divers can expect to encounter velvetbelly
lanternsharks, blackmouth catsharks, chimaeras, skates and numerous other
Deep water shark expedition.
Coelho, R. Blasdale, T., Mancusi, C., Serena, F.,
Guallart, J., Ungaro, N., Litvinov, F., Crozier, P. & Stenberg, C. 2009. Etmopterus
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T161388A5412576.
on 10 December 2018.