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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Velvet Belly Lanternshark Etmopterus spinax

As this small shark searches for fish and squid in the darkness, its black belly is illuminated by tiny, bright light organs called photophores. It has large eyes and two dorsal fins, each with a strong, grooved spine in front. It is one of about 30 similar species that include the smallest known sharks.

Velvet Belly Lanternshark habitat mapzoom image
  • Order Squaliformes
  • Length Up to 18 in (45 cm), rarely 24 in (60 cm
  • Weight Up to 2 lb (850 g)
  • Depth Typically 650–1,650 ft (200–500 m), up to 8,200 ft (2,500 m)
  • Distribution Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean