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Seven Gill Sharks - Notorynchus cepedianus

Photo by PSRF


7-gill sharks are distinguished by being the only shark species to have 7 gill slits. They also can be ID'd by having just one dorsal fin placed way back near the tail which is very long. 7-gill sharks are a light gray color with irregular dark or black spots or mottling.
7-gill sharks (Notorynchus cepedianus) are the principle large benthic predator off of the coast of the central eastern pacific and can be found in nearly all oceans and are rivaled only by the larger 6-gill shark and the giant pacific sleeper shark.
7-gill sharks can be found seasonally in shallow waters 50'-100' but they spend most of there time at great depths. 7-gill sharks can be found in all of the worlds deepest oceans.


Female 7-gill sharks give birth to live young that are approximately 14"-16" in. long. Gestation is believed to be around 10-12 months with varying litters of 10-25 pups. 7-gill sharks mature at 8-12 years and at lengths of 7'-8' ft. maximum length is over 12' ft and 1000 lbs.


Not much is known about 7-gill shark movements or migrations but recent tag and release studies have suggested a seasonal pattern residency. In 1990 the Monterey Bay Aquarium captured an 11' ft long 7-gill shark in Humboldt bay and transported it to the aquarium in Monterey, some 350 mile south of Humboldt.
The shark was the aquariums star attraction until 1994 when the shark was released near the aquarium in Monterey. The shark had been tagged with a Pelagic Shark Research Foundation tag and tracked for several hours aboard "Pelagic I". In late 1996 the shark was recaptured in Humboldt Bay very near where it had been previously captured in 1990. This may indicate a strong association with a "home range" or primary set of seasonal way points.
7-gill sharks have a wide selection of prey items and hunt and scavenge at will. 7-gill harks eat other sharks and rays , black cod, hake, squid, octopus, and dead whales. In alaska there are reports of large 7-gill sharks attacking harbor seals.

PSRF Director Sean Van Sommeran prepares to release a tagged seven-gill shark, Notorynchus cepedianus during an excursion upon the San Francisco bay. Seven-gill sharks are a principal benthic predator of the S.F bay and the PSRF is looking to gain insights into this creature's movements, range and distribution. Sohst/PSRF
Photo by PSRF

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