Little Gulper Shark: Centrophorus uyato

Family: Centrophoridae
Common name(s)

Little Gulper Shark.


A small shark with a pointed snout, and large green-reflective eyes. Snout length greater than mouth width. Small, spiracle behind eye. Dorsal fins long and low, with anterior fin spines that are less than half the length of the dorsal anterior margin. First dorsal fin origin midway between pectoral fin insertion and free rear tip. Second dorsal origin slightly anterior to pelvic fin free rear tip. Pectoral fin free rear tip long and thin.
Dorsal coloration grey to brownish grey. Ventrum slightly paler than dorsum. Dorsal fins have dusky tips. All fins may have a pale posterior margin.


Maximum recorded length 128cm.


A deepwater species of the continental slope. From 50-1400m


The little gulper shark appears to be a wide ranging species but further research may lead to one or more regional splits. Currently, its distribution includes most subtropical/temperate coastlines but it is noticeably absent from the eastern Pacific.


Conservation Status


The Little Gulper Shark is taken as both targeted and incidental catch across its range in mid-water and demersal trawl, surface and demersal longline, and setnet fisheries.

Where targeted fishing occurs, fishing activity has been intensive. In the Philippines, deep-water dogfish fisheries (Centrophorus spp and Squalus spp), dating back to the 1960s, are known for their boom-and-bust nature and collapse over short periods of time (~10 years) before effort is shifted into new regions (Flores 2004).

In India, fisheries employing a number of gear types (trawl, longline, gill net, hook and line) have expanded further offshore into deeper waters as inshore stocks become heavily exploited. A targeted gulper shark liver oil fishery (operating at depths of >300–1,000 m) commenced in 2002, and between 2002–2008, there was a major increase in landings of deep-water sharks (see Akhilesh et al. 2011, 2013, Akhilesh and Ganga 2013). Targeting fishing has also occurred off the Andaman Islands and Sri Lanka since the 1980s (Soundararajan and Roy 2004, A. Tanna pers. comm. 21/11/2019). Reports of large quantities of shark liver oil recently transported out of Somalia may be indicative of developing fisheries in this region (K.K. Bineesh unpubl. data 2019).

In the Northeast Atlantic, this species was previously reported in small quantities in Portuguese longline fisheries (ICES-WGEF 2018). It is reported in bottom longlines and trammel nets throughout the Mediterranean (Guallart 1998, Massutí and Moranta 2003, Lteif et al. 2017). Despite a number of management measures to reduce deep-water shark fishing mortality, deep-water sharks are still captured in demersal fisheries (e.g. Fauconnet et al. 2019). Discard mortality is unknown, but presumed to be high (Rodríguez-Cabello and Sánchez 2017) and the extent of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is unknown (ICES-WGEF 2018).

Between 1950–1998, there was an apparent increase in reported landings

Citations and References
Finucci, B., Bineesh, K.K., Cotton, C.F., Dharmadi, Kulka, D.W., Neat, F.C., Pacoureau, N., Rigby, C.L., Tanaka, S. & Walker, T.I. 2020. Centrophorus uyatoThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T41745A124416090. Downloaded on 13 January 2021.


An aplacental viviparous species (without a yolk-sac placenta). Little size 1-2.


Feeds on bony fishes and cephalopods.
Gulper sharks have highly distensible mouths that allow them to consume proportionately larger pray than other sharks of their size.


Largely unknown. Jose Castro lists the little gulper shark as being the most common centrophorid species in the Bahamas.

Reaction to divers

Not encountered by divers.

Diving logistics


Similar species

Other Gulper Sharks There are at least 14 species of gulper sharks, many of which look very similar. The distribution of many species is poorly understood. Therefore, positive identification is best achieved by DNA Analysis and close examination of tooth and dermal denticle shape.