Deep sea sharks with eerie resemblances to eels are called frilled sharks. Their frilly-looking six-gill slits on either side of their bodies are the reason behind their name. The main reason these enigmatic organisms are hard to examine is because they inhabit the ocean’s depths, where doing research is challenging. The fact that we know so little about this creature adds to its fascination and mystique.
Description of the Frilled Shark
These sharks have long, narrow bodies, long tails, and gill slits that resemble ribbons. Their many rows of needle-like, razor-sharp teeth are designed to seize squirmy prey. Their tiny, rounded pectoral fins are situated directly behind the final gill openings. Right before the caudal, or tail, fin, there is a single dorsal fin on top of the back. On either side of their abdomens, they also feature two thick skin folds.
Diet of the Frilled Shark
These sharks can extend their incredibly long jaws to swallow astonishingly enormous meals. Although this skill allows them to devour anything up to half their size, it prevents them from possessing bite strength on par with other sharks. Smaller sharks, bony fish, octopus, and squid are a few examples of frequent prey.
Research indicates that more than half of this species’ diet may consist of squid, at least in some populations. Because squid moves so quickly, experts theorize that frilled sharks can catch them by bending their bodies and lunging forward like a snake.
Chlamydoselachus anguineus has evolved specifically to survive in abysses. The habitat of the frilled shark is widely but extremely patchily scattered; in the eastern Atlantic, it extends from northern Norway to Ireland, France, Morocco, and Namibia; in the western Atlantic, it includes the waters of New England, Georgia, and Suriname. The frilled shark inhabits the western Pacific, stretching from Japan to Tasmania, New Zealand, and southeastern Australia. In the eastern Pacific, it can be found near Hawaii, California, and the northern coast of Chile.
The aplacental viviparous (also known as ovoviviparous) frilled shark, Chlamydoselachus anguineus, is a reproductive strategy in which the embryos hatch from their egg capsules inside the mother’s uterus and are fed by the yolk until they are born.
The longest gestation time of any vertebrate is up to three and a half years for frilled sharks. At 1.0–1.2 m in length, male frill sharks reach sexual maturity, while females reach 1.3–1.5 m. In the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, above a seamount, a probable mating aggregation of fifteen male and nineteen female frilled sharks was photographed.
Usually about 40cm long at birth, the frilled shark is a deep-water, naturally buoyant shark that lurks in the chilly waters of the world’s oceans. The frilled shark’s gestation cycle may last up to three and a half years, according to scientists, because its deep water environment slows down its metabolic processes.
It is nearly twice as long as that of the African elephant and has the longest gestation time of any animal, marine or terrestrial. Males grow to be between 95 cm and 1.6 m tall, while females reach around 1.35 m. The largest known frilled shark was a female, measuring in at 2 meters, while the greatest male was 1.7 meters. Depending on the location, their color might vary from dark grey to chocolatey brown.
Mating and Reproduction
The frilled shark, like all other sharks, is internally fertilized, meaning that the male inserts his sperm into the female’s cloaca using his claspers. Since the deep water is unaffected by variations in the surface of the ocean, there is no seasonal mating period.
After an extended gestation period of up to 3.5 years, a litter consists of two to fifteen pups. The juvenile sharks are initially between 15 and 24 inches long when they are born. At 3.3–3.9 feet (1.0–1.2 meters), male juveniles reach sexual maturity; females reach it at 4.3–4.9 feet (1.3–1.5 meters).
The frilled shark is classified as “LC,” or “Least Concern,” by the IUCN. This shark was categorized as “At Risk – Naturally Uncommon” by the New Zealand Threat Classification System in 2018. This is mostly because it is difficult to pinpoint the precise population of sharks in the wild because of their rarity.