Ninja Lanternshark

The ninja lanternshark is a bioluminescent shark that lives in the ocean’s depths. The process with which it got its name is quite interesting, to say the least, with its scientific name coming from the author of Jaws, Peter Benchley.

But the common name comes from the 8-year-old cousins of the scientist who discovered the shark, Vicky Vasquez, who took one look at it and called it a “Super Ninja Shark”. She did have to scale it back a bit, leaving this deep-sea dweller with the name it has today.

Ninja Lanternshark Scientific Classification

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Chondrichthyes
Order Squaliformes
Family Etmopteridae
Genus Etmopterus
Scientific Name E. benchleyi


Males tend to be 12.8 inches, while females are much larger at 20.3 inches. Noticeably, these sharks have a congregation of dermal denticles around their gill slits and eyes. Significant differences exist between the teeth on the upper and lower jaws, with those on the top being smaller and straight, while those on the bottom being wider and hooked. There are 30-36 teeth in the lower jaw.

Their bodies are black, with only the eyes and mouth having white markings on them.

Where do they live

Ninja lanternsharks are found throughout the eastern Pacific Ocean, ranging from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and south to Panama.

The range of their depth is from 2743 to 4734 ft along the continental slope.



Due to its small size, its prey generally consists of shrimps and small bony fish. At the depths where it resides, this shark can sneak up on its unsuspecting prey from behind and catch them off guard.


One can assume that this shark is ovoviviparous, though this is yet to be confirmed.


Unlike other sharks that produce their light via bioluminescence, their light-generating organs or photophores are on their heads instead of the lower parts of their bodies. This helps them to not only avoid predators with counter illumination but also attract prey towards themselves.

Interactions with humans

There are no notable interactions with humans, and the IUCN classifies this shark as “LC” or “Least Concern”.

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