Crocodile sharks are a mackerel shark species named after how they snap when brought out of the water, similar to a crocodile. It is the smallest living mackerel shark and can be recognized from its cigar-like body and huge eyes.
Crocodile Shark Scientific Classification
|Scientific Name||P. kamoharai|
This shark has a body shaped like a spindle, with a small head and a rounded snout. Typically, these sharks are 3.3-3.6 ft long and weigh about 8.8–13.2 lb. Their eyes are large and have protective third eyelids. There are about 30 tooth rows in both jaws, with two lateral teeth in the front on the upper row separated from the rest of the teeth with a small row of intermediate teeth. Each tooth is shaped like either a spike or a knife.
The fins of this shark are small and rounded, and its body is covered with flat dermal denticles. Crocodile sharks are brown from above and lighter from below, with dark blotches on the belly region and white spots around the mouth and first-gill slit. There are transparent margins on the fins.
Where do they live
Crocodile sharks can be found throughout the tropical waters of three of the five oceans. In the Atlantic, it has been spotted throughout the southern parts, ranging from Brazil to South Africa, including Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Saint Helena Island. It has been harder to pinpoint in the Indian Ocean, with only the Mozambique Channel confirmed and the Agulhas Current and Bay of Bengal possibilities. Finally, the crocodile shark seems to have the broadest range in the Pacific, from Japan in the west to Chile in the east, encompassing Australia, Baja California, the Hawaiian Islands, Indonesia, Johnston, Korean Peninsula, Line, Marquesas, Marshall, New Zealand, Palmyra, Phoenix, and Taiwan.
The preferred latitude range appears to be between 37°N and 44°S, where the temperature is about 20 °C. This shark can be found in waters as deep as 1,940 ft but generally prefers depths of 660 ft.
They eat shrimp, squids, and small-to-medium-sized bony fishes like bristlemouths and lanternfishes. It is currently assumed that the crocodile shark actively searches for prey, as it has exhibited breaching behavior to grab bait offered by anglers.
Their feeding pattern seems to follow a diel vertical migratory pattern, with them staying at lower depths (660-1940 ft) during the day and coming to the surface to feed at night.
This shark is heavily concentrated over certain spots, indicating that it does not undergo long-distance migration.
They viviparous, giving birth to four pups per litter. The newborn pups are oophagous, feeding on unfertilized eggs. At birth, the juveniles are 16 inches long. Sexual maturity is observed in males, 29–43.5 inches at 3.1 years, while females do so at 5.1 years and 35–40 inches.
The sharks’ muscular tail helps them swim at high speeds, and their liver acts as a buoyancy device. Their large eyes, possessing a reflective green or yellow retina, indicate that they have amazing vision to isolate the silhouettes or light generated by their prey.
Interactions with humans
They are not dangerous to humans; however, a bite from them will hurt due to the sharpness of their teeth. Of course, it’s not just humans who are at risk, as AT&T would discover when they tried to lay their fiberoptic cables underwater. These sharks, along with other species like goblin sharks and oceanic whitetip sharks, cause heavy damage to them. This occurred because the sharks’ senses were driven haywire by the enormous amounts of electricity passing through these cables. The attacks stopped once the wires received extra coatings of steel and polyethylene.
While this species is classified as “Least Concern” or “LC” by the IUCN there is some risk to the population due to fishing. It is usually discarded as bycatch, though its liver may have potential uses.