Smalleye Pygmy Shark

The smalleye pygmy shark is a kitefin shark living in the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the smallest sharks currently alive.

Smalleye Pygmy Shark Scientific Classification

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Chondrichthyes
Order Squaliformes
Family Dalatiidae
Genus Squaliolus
Scientific Name S. aliae


As one of the smallest extant sharks to ever live, the maximum recorded length of the smalleye pygmy shark is 8.7 inches. It looks like a cigar and has a pointed snout. The eyes of this shark are tiny, around 43–66% as long as the snout.

There are 20–27 slender and upright upper tooth rows and 18-23 broader lower ones. These sharks are the only ones to have a spine along their first dorsal fin but not along the second. The spine also acts as a way to distinguish between male and females as it is exposed in males and covered with skin in females.

Dorsally, these sharks are black to brown, with the edges of the fins being lighter in color.

Where do they live

Map Of The Smalleye Pygmy Shark’s Habitat

Smalleye Pygmy Shark Habitat Map

The smalleye pygmy shark is distributed throughout the western Pacific Ocean however only in random patches. There have been sightings in the Philippines, northern and eastern Australia, and southern Japan.

It lives in upper and middle layers of the water column close to shore, at depths of 490–6,560 ft.



Smalleye pygmy sharks feed on krill, shrimps, squid, and small bony fishes such as lanternfish.


They undergo a diel vertical migration, resting in deeper water and moving to shallower waters at night.


These sharks are aplacental viviparous, with the pups at birth being about 3.9 inches long.


The underside of this shark is covered in photophores, allowing them to employ counter-illumination and use camouflage to attract prey and distract predators.

Interactions with humans

The IUCN classifies this shark as “Least Concern” or “LC” because it has no commercial use and a stable population.

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