Defining Features[edit | edit source]

The Echinorhiniformes have two species in this order, the Bramble Shark (Echinorhinus brucus) and the Prickly Shark (Echinorhinus cookei). These sharks have two small, spineless dorsal fins on the back of their bodies, right before their caudal fin which has a larger top half. Some other distinct features of the echinorhiniformes is their rounded snout and their lack of an anal fin. The largest echinorhiniformes can grow is up to 7.5 feet long, but they can still be seen as small as around 5 feet fully matured. These sharks also have pointed, luminescent denticles all over their bodies. Echinorhiniformes can be a variety of colors. It's most common colors being dark gray, brown, and purple, but some others have been olive-colored and black.

Habitat and Range[edit | edit source]

Evenly sprinkled across the globe, there are very few places the Echinorhiniformes—otherwise known as the Bramble and Prickly shark— hasn’t called home.

Native to the coastal plains stretching from the western Atlantic in Massachusetts to the base of Argentina, as well as the North sea (present day to Finland), around the Cape of South Africa and  every Indian ocean island crevice, the Bramble shark is well traveled.

Strangely enough the Echinorhiniformes is not found in the Eastern Pacific Ocean due to the El Niño lead evolutionary migration. Typically, (El Niño negative years), cold water brings nutrients to the surface in order to sustain aquatic life. However, El Niño positive seasons create a reduction in cold water upwelling along the Chilean coast up to California. Without nutrient-rich waters, many fish schools are forced to migrate to regions where their food can readily available. In the same vein, the sharks follow.

A species denoted as one of the ocean’s  “bottom-dwellers”, Bramble sharks are Bathydemersal which gives them the ability to dive deep into the depth of the ocean’s upper continental slope (near seafloor). Though some species may be found in shallow waters, the Echinorhiniformes usually swims within 1,300 and 3,000 ft.

Fisheries Conservation and Concern[edit | edit source]

Both species are listed by the IUCN as being "Data Deficient" but are a victim of bycatch in other commercial fisheries.

Closest Relatives[edit | edit source]


Example Species in Echinorhiniformes[edit | edit source]


Bramble Shark[edit | edit source]

Echinorhinus brucus[edit | edit source]

Defining Features: Its dorsal surface is brown or purplish-grey with white denticles while the ventral underbelly is paler in color. The denticles on its dorsal surface can be rather large in size; in an adult, one denticle could have a basal diameter as large as about 15 mm. It has a stouter body and shorter snout. The species also has two, close together dorsal fins that are small and spineless. They are farther back on the body. The Bramble shark has no anal fin.

Range & Habitat: The Bramble Shark is a deepwater shark that is typically found on upper slopes, continental shelves, and insular shelves. Occasionally, they have been found in shallow water. They are distributed widely all over the world in places such as the Western Atlantic, Eastern Atlantic, North Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean, Eastern Pacific, and along the coast of Africa. They are absent from the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Its environment ranges in depths from 10 m to 900 m, but they are usually found in depths from 350 m to 900 m. It is a marine bathydemersal species.

IUCN Concern: This species is data deficient. It is a source of bycatch in line fisheries and deepwater trawls. In South Africa, the oil from its liver is used medicinally. This organism is also used for fishmeal.


Prickly Shark[edit | edit source]

Echinorhinus cookei[edit | edit source]

Defining Features: The prickly shark is grayish brown with white coloration surrounding its mouth and on the ventral side of its snout. Its snout is short and it has a stouter body. It also has black distal fin margins. On the posterior portion of the body, the species has two, smaller dorsal fins that are close together and are spineless. It has no anal fin. The Prickly Shark also has denticles on its body that are similar to thorns. One denticle, on an adult Prickly Shark, can have a basal diameter of 4 mm.

Range & Habitat: This shark is found on upper slopes, continental shelves, and insular shelves in depths that range from 11-1100 m. It is located off the shores of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Palau in the Western Pacific Ocean as well as in the Eastern Pacific Ocean near Hawaii, California, Peru, Chile, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. It is a marine benthopelagic species.

IUCN Concern: This species is data deficient. It was listed as low risk from commercial fishing for chondrichthyans in New Zealand, but the Prickly Shark could be at risk for localized depletion due to it having a high site fidelity. The shark is not accidentally caught often by deepwater longlines, commercial fishing, artisanal pelagic longlines, or benthic gill nets and trawls, but it was misidentified in capture records throughout Peru, Taiwan, Japan, and California. It was previously thought to be the Bramble Shark.

References[edit | edit source]

The Florida Museum:

The Australian Museum:

Sharkwater website:

Chondrichthyan Tree of Life:

I.C.U.N. Redlist:

The Fish Base:


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