Dwarf Lantern Sharks Diet & Lifecycle

Dwarf lantern sharks (Etmopterus perryi) are the smallest of all shark species in the world rarely growing to a maximum length of 8.5 inches. They are found off the coast of Colombia and Venezuelan waters, between Barranquilla and Santa Marta and the Guajira Peninsula. Dwarf lantern sharks live deep in the oceans, in the bathypelagic zone, ranging between 928 – 1440 feet below sea level.

Dwarf lantern sharks have a bioluminescent organ, known as photophores, along their belly and fins. this makes the fish glow in the dark like a lantern. Unlike other shark species, dwarf lantern sharks hunt in different ways; they typically swim alone or in small groups beneath large schools of fish, which helps them avoid predators so that they can safely continue their food search. These mini-beasts have incredibly large eyes for their size, which helps them see better in the dark water.

What Do Dwarf Lantern Sharks Eat

The dwarf lantern shark is a carnivore; the dwarf lantern shark diet consists of mostly benthic and midwater crustaceans, krill, small bony fish, squid, and shrimp. The teeth of this shark are very small, designed to crush and grind crustaceans, in particular amphipods, crabs, and mollusks.

Dwarf Lantern Shark Lifecycle

Dwarf lantern sharks reproduce viviparously and give birth to two to three pups at a time. Their eggs hatch inside their mother, where they are nurtured by the yolk sac until they are born. The dwarf lantern shark baby is only 2.2 to 2.4 inches long when born. These young sharks are bioluminescent before birth, so scientists believe that they are passing along luminescent materials from their mothers to their offspring.

Their sexual maturity is determined by the length of their bodies. Dwarf lantern sharks reach full sexual maturity at 6.9 inches in length. Its ancestor, the Greenland shark, belongs to the sleeper shark family, and it is believed to be the longest-living vertebrate on Earth.

Although not part of a major commercial fishery, they are still susceptible to bycatch. There are also unknown impacts of human activities on the populations of these sharks. Scientists and ecologists need more information on these fascinating sharks to determine whether they are threatened by human activity. Dwarf lantern sharks can live up to 20 or more.

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