Prickly Shark - Distribution and Habitat

Distribution and Habitat

The prickly shark is widely distributed around the Pacific Ocean. In the western and central Pacific, it has been reported off Japan, Taiwan, Victoria and Queensland in Australia, and New Zealand, as well as around the islands of Palau, New Caledonia, Tonga, Hawaii, and possibly the Gilberts. In the eastern Pacific, it is known to occur from Oregon to El Salvador (including the Gulf of California), around the Cocos and Galapagos Islands, and off Peru and Chile. This species generally seems to be uncommon; an exception is in Monterey Canyon off California, where sharks of both sexes are abundant throughout the year.

Favoring cooler temperatures of 5.5–11 °C (42–52 °F), the prickly shark is mostly found below depths of 100–200 m (330–660 ft), particularly in the tropics. It has been recorded from at least 650 m (2,130 ft) down and may occur much deeper, possibly to 1,500 m (4,900 ft). On the other hand, at higher latitudes it frequently enters shallow inshore waters; for example, in Monterey Canyon it can be consistently found at depths of 15–35 m (49–115 ft), and off Moss Landing one individual was captured in water only 4 m (13 ft) deep. This shark inhabits continental and insular shelves and slopes, where it swims close to the bottom. It can also be found inside submarine canyons, close to the walls. It prefers areas with a muddy or sandy substrate. It is tolerant of low dissolved oxygen levels, allowing it to inhabit oceanic basins inaccessible to other sharks.

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