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the web of life in southern Africa

Hexanchus griseus (Bluntnose sixgill shark)

(Bonnaterre, 1788)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Chondrichthyes > Elasmobranchii > Squalomorphii > Hexanchiformes  > Hexanchidae

Hexanchus griseus (Bluntnose sixgill shark) [Illustration by Ann Hecht ]


A giant 6-gilled cowshark with a broad, blunt snout, moderately large, bright green eyes, and a short caudal peduncle. Colour light brown or grey to black with a light horizontal line on sides.


To 4.8 m TL.


Probably entire area; all temperate and tropical seas.



Mostly offshore near the bottom, but sometimes rises to surface at night and penetrates close inshore; to at least 930 m here but over 1875 m elsewhere.


A common, omnivorous deepwater shark, feeds on other sharks, rays, chimaeras, bony fish, hagfish, lampreys, whale meat, crabs, shrimp, squid and octopus. Bears 22 to 108 young.

Human Impact

Caught by bottom trawlers, line boats and sports anglers, little-utilized.

Text by Leonard J.V. Compagno, David A. Ebert and Malcolm J. Smale