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The Goblin Shark (mitsukurina Owstoni): Rare Species of Deep-sea Shark

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The goblin shark (Mitsukurina owstoni) is a rare species of deep-sea shark. Sometimes called a “living fossil”, it is the only extant representative of the family Mitsukurinidae, a lineage some 125 million years old. This pink-skinned animal has a distinctive profile with an elongated, flattened snout, and highly protrusible jaws containing prominent nail-like teeth. It is usually between 3 and 4 m (10 and 13 ft) long when mature, though it can grow considerably larger.

Goblin sharks inhabit upper continental slopes, submarine canyons, and seamounts throughout the world at depths greater than 100m (330 ft), with adults found deeper than juveniles. Various anatomical features of the goblin shark, such as its flabby body and small fins, suggest that it is sluggish in nature. This species hunts for teleost fishes, cephalopods, and crustaceans both near the seafloor and in the middle of the water column. Its long snout is covered with ampullae of Lorenzini that enable it to sense minute electric fields produced by nearby prey, which it can snatch up by rapidly expanding its jaws. Small numbers of goblin sharks are unintentionally caught by deepwater fisheries. The International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) has assessed it as Least Concern, despite its rarity, citing its wide distribution and low incidence of capture. So how do goblin sharks hunt for prey when they live in such a deep, dark environment? Well, they, like all sharks, have a specialized sense organ called the “ampullae of Lorenzini,” which is located on a shark’s snout. The ampullae of Lorenzini allows the shark to detect even very weak electrical impulses given off by the living things around them. The long snout of the goblin shark means that its ampullae of Lorenzini are widely distributed along the length and are particularly sensitive, compared to those of other species.

Since the flabby, short-finned goblin shark likely isn’t much of a speed demon, it probably doesn’t go after its prey like, say, the super-fast great white shark. Rather, scientists believe that its low-density flesh and its enormous, oily liver serve to make the goblin shark extra buoyant so that it can ambush its prey by floating closer and closer with minimal fin movements, making it hard for dinner to sense its presence. Once it’s close enough, the jaws extend out and open up, and the shark either grabs its pretty or sucks it in like an underwater vacuum cleaner. The goblin shark surprisingly will not harm a human but mostly because they live so deep in the ocean. If the goblin shark is keep in human captivity it’s life will be very shortly lived. The goblin shark is not extinct it’s least concerned.

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The goblin shark (Mitsukurina owstoni): rare species of deep-sea shark. (2019, January 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 22, 2022, from
“The goblin shark (Mitsukurina owstoni): rare species of deep-sea shark.” GradesFixer, 15 Jan. 2019,
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