There are over 400 species of sharks swimming in our oceans. These fish first appeared on Earth over 450 million years ago, and still, they persist and adapt to a wide variety of marine habits.
These cartilaginous fish are diverse. Some are large, others small. Some give birth to live young, others lay eggs known as mermaid’s purses.
Everyone is familiar with the Great White Shark, but what are some fascinating lesser-known shark species? The horn shark, frilled shark, cookie cutter shark, and Pacific sleeper shark are species of shark with unusual appearances and characteristics.
The Horn Shark is a relative of the bullhead shark that grows to about 4 feet long. They live in kelp forests off the shores of Central California to Baja California. They prefer shallow waters of less than 40 feet deep. They are reclusive sharks that hide under ledges, in caves, or amongst the thick kelp.
Horn sharks match perfectly with their surroundings. Then, they hunt at night and dine on a variety of crustaceans, sea urchins, mollusks, and small fish. They are not good swimmers. Horned sharks sometimes even use their pectoral fins to crawl along the rocks on the seafloor.
These sharks lay spiral egg cases that they wedge into rocks.
Unfortunately, this shark is caught and killed by divers for sport. Their spines are sometimes made into jewelry. They also get snared in crab traps and other fishing nets.
Shy and reclusive, these sharks pose no threat to humans.
The Frilled Shark is a freak-looking fish. With a 7-foot-long, cylindrical body, fins sitting far back on its body, and frilly gills, this shark could be the star of its horror film. Their swimming looks more like slithering as they maneuver their long bodies in the water.
This is a deep-sea roaming predator that hunts in the darkest waters looking for squid and other fish. They use their long teeth to snag their prey.
Frilled sharks are ovoviviparous, which means they produce eggs inside their body, hatch them internally, and then give birth to live pups.
Since this shark lives so far below the surface, it is rarely seen by humans. Some scientists believe they are on the verge of extinction due to their rarity, but their actual numbers are unknown.
As deep-sea dwellers, humans don’t come into contact with this shark at all, so they pose no threat of biting or attacking humans.
Cookie Cutter Shark
Cookie Cutter Sharks are another odd-looking species of shark. This shark is a parasite, meaning they feed off their prey without killing them. They grow up to about 16.5 inches long.
They get their name due to the unique bite mark they leave once they are done feeding. Cookie-cutter sharks have razor-sharp teeth and lips. Their lips provide powerful suction that helps the shark latch onto prey. Then, they use their teeth to scoop out chunks of blubber, leaving their characteristic circular scars on bluefin tuna, great white sharks, spinner dolphins, and other larger marine animals.
These sharks reproduce by hatching eggs within their bodies and then giving birth to them. A typical litter consists of 6-7 pups.
Cookie cutters feed near the surface at night and in deep ocean waters during the day. They are still rather abundant and not sought after as a food source. They are occasionally caught in fisheries targeting other fish.
They are rarely seen by humans, so they pose little threat to their safety. However, there have been one or two reports of a cookie-cutter shark biting a human, but these are extremely rare.
Pacific Sleeper Shark
This gray-bodied, 12–14-foot shark lives along the continental shelves and slopes at a depth of about 6,500 feet. Pacific Sleeper Sharks are found in the North Pacific from Japan to Mexico.
These sharks have stout, blunt noses. Their spineless dorsal fins are small. They have heavy bodies that are cylindrical. They have spear-like upper teeth and lower teeth made for slicing. They hunt a variety of marine animals, but seals tend to be their favorite.
Pacific sleepers get their name due to their sluggish behavior.
Not a lot is known about this large shark. Scientists only estimate their reproductive habits and growth. However, they are believed to give birth to live young.
Humans don’t come into contact with Pacific sleepers often, so they are not considered to be dangerous, and there are no known human attacks.
Earth’s oceans are some of the most unexplored places. There are still so many species of fish, sharks, and other marine animals to find and explore.
For these lesser-known sharks, there is also still a lot of unknown. Scientists will continue to study these creatures, learning more about their habits and lifestyles.
Unique species of shark dwell in the shallows off coasts and in the deepest waters of the ocean. Their ability to adapt and hunt in every niche in the ocean has made the shark one of the fiercest predators on the planet.