Poster child for Earth Day 2008: Gulper shark

gulper.jpgLast year, DSN asked readers to remember the deep-sea on Earth Day by celebrating the goblin shark. This year’s poster child is the gulper shark, pictured left.

Gulper sharks are a group of 15 species of squaliform sharks in the Family Centrophoridae. They occur globally in tropical to temperate marine waters. Gulper sharks are bathydemersal, living and feeding between 328 ft and 3937 ft (100 -1,200 meters). They are commonly observed along the outer continental shelves and upper slopes, usually on or near the bottom substrate.

Gulper sharks are harvested for food and pharmaceuticals, namely squalene, a shark liver extract and an unsaturated hydrocarbon thought to provide health benefits. One health site had this to offer…

“Once regarded as an enemy, a primitive and powerful hunter of the deep, the shark in now being heralded as a lifesaver.”

Too bad they can’t save their own lives. Half of the fish harvested in Australia’s south-east fishery come from a thin belt of water along the south-eastern continental shelf at depths of 200-700 metres according to CSIRO scientist, Dr Alan Williams. He leads a monitoring experiment that will track the shark’s movements in a closed area designed to protect the gulper shark -which is severely depleted over much of its range and is nominated for protection under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Read more here at ScienceDaily.

On Earth Day, its easy to forget that sharks are at 10% of their historical abundance, that squid fisheries light up the sea surface so brightly we can see them from space, or that bottom trawlers drag their nets across seamounts far offshore when all around us people are celebrating healthy parks, rivers, and beaches. The least we can do as fans of DSN on Earth Day is to remind just one person that the deep-sea is the largest part of Earth. Are you with me? Let’s make Craig proud. Call it our “just one person” challenge… ; )


Images from and

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