The 10 Smallest Species Of Sharks

When most people think of sharks, they think of massive predators like Great White Sharks and Tiger Sharks.

However, many species are sharks are actually very small.

These species are populous and found in oceans all over the world. So in order to learn more about all the types of sharks in the world, here is a rundown of some interesting facts about the smallest members of the species.

1. Dwarf Lanternshark


The first shark on the list is the smallest shark in the ocean measuring a maximum of 8.3 inches (21.2 cm). Little is known about the average size of these sharks but most of the ones that have been found can fit inside a human hand. Dwarf Lanternsharks live off the coasts of Colombia and Venezuela at 929-1440 feet (283-439 m) along the continental shelf. These tiny sharks eat mainly krill. Besides being the smallest known sharks in the world, they are also bioluminescent. Meaning that like other deep sea fish, they emit light to trick and trap their prey.

2. Pale Catshark


The Pale Catshark is the second smallest known shark. This tiny shark only reaches 8.2 inches (21 cm) at maturity. Like the Dwarf Lanternshark, the Pale Catshark is a deep sea fish living at 2148 ft (655 m) in the Makassar Straits in Indonesia. They resemble a typical catshark and are reddish-white in color. There has only ever been one Pale Catshark caught, so very little is known about them besides that they are oviparous, laying pairs of eggs.

3. Panama Ghost Catshark


The Panama Ghost catshark is the third smallest species of shark known to humans. This tiny shark reaches 9 inches (23 cm) in length and is found only off the coast of Panama in the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately very little is known about the Panama Ghost Shark besides its size and oviparous reproduction. Based on where it was discovered scientists believe that it lives at 3000-3198 ft (915-975 m) deep. However until more are found, scientists are only left to speculate on its habitat.

4. Atlantic Ghost Catshark


The Atlantic Ghost Catshark, also known as the Atlantic Catshark, is the next small species on the list and reaches 9.25 inches (25 cm) in length. It lives in the Eastern Atlantic around the Portuguese island of Madeira, though it is unknown at what depth. Scientists estimate like other Catsharks, it is a deep water shark. The Atlantic Ghost Catshark is brown in color and eats small bait fishes.

5. Green Lanternshark


The Green Lanternshark is a common bycatch of fishing, so scientists have been able to study it more in depth than some of the other smaller sharks. Green Lanternshark is a bottom dwelling species that lives in the Atlantic coast at a depth of 1,150 ft (350 m) and to a tiny 10 inches (25 cm) in length. It’s diet consists mainly of squid and octopi. The Green Lanternshark has very unique markings that are bioluminescent. These markings are black and found along the tail to attract prey.

6. Pygmy Shark

Pygmy Shark

The Pygmy Shark could be argued as the second smallest species of shark because they males only reach 8.7 inches (22 cm). However the females of the species reach 10 inches (25 cm). They have a relatively wide distribution and are found in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Ocean at deeps of 4921-6000 ft (1500-1829 m). They migrate vertically at night to hunt and use bioluminescent organs along its stomach to attract prey. It is believed Pygmy Sharks eat krill and small fish.

7. African Lanternshark


The African Lanternshark is found along the southeastern coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean at depths of 984-3280 ft (300-1000 m) deep along the continental slope. It grows to 11 inches (30 cm) in length at maturity. Though a very common bycatch, little is known about the biology and behavior of the African Lanternshark. However, scientists believe it uses ovoviviparous reproduction.

8. Broadnose Catshark


The Broadnose Catshark grows to 10.2 inches (26 cm) and lives in the deep water at 3412 ft (1040 m) in the Andaman Sea in the Indian Ocean. Very little is known about the Broadnose Catshark but scientists believe it is similar in physical traits and behaviors to the Ghost Catshark. Only one specimen has been found and it was an immature species so it may grow larger than the estimated 10.2 inches.

9. Spined Pygmy Shark


The Spined Pygmy Shark is found along the upper continental shelves in nearly every ocean in the world except the Antarctic. Typically it is found at 660-1,600 feet (200-500 m) deep, migrating vertically at night to hunt for small bony fish like lanternfish. The underneath side of the Spined Pygmy Shark is covered with bioluminescent organs and the top has bumpy denticles that resemble spines. The Spined Pygmy Shark is very populous because it does not face any threats from humans.

10. Granular Dogfish


The last small shark on our list is the Granular Dogfish named for its grainy appearance and skin texture. The Granular Dogfish reaches 11 inches (27 cm) in length and lives around the Falkland Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The only known specimen was caught at 1476 ft (450 m) but little is known about its habitat. Though scientists speculate it is a deep water hunter, found only around Chile and the Falkland islands. It is brown and black and resembles a typical Dogfish Shark.

These small types of sharks highlight the diversity of shark species. They live in the oceans all over the globe. Hunt everything from krill to crustaceans to bony fish, and have unique biological adaptations for their environment. These small sharks are very different than their much larger cousins, and help break the stereotypes about sharks. So keep these small guys in mind the next time you think about the amazing range of shark species.

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