Prickly shark dermal denticles covering it body. Prickly shark dermal denticles are large when compared to most other sharks making their skin feel more like steel wool than sand paper.

Prickly sharks live throughout the Pacific Ocean and have been captured from depths 5 – 650 m (~16 – 2133 ft). There have been few published studies on what prickly shark eat. Based on limited published stomach content analyses, the prickly shark’s diet consists of small sharks, egg cases of other sharks and rays, octopus, squid, chimera, and other mid-water and benthic fishes (Pietschmann 1930, Garrick 1960, Garrick & Moreland 1968, Varoujean 1972, Crow et al. 1996).  This wide variety of prey makes it likely that prickly sharks are a generalist feeder which means they aren’t too picky about what they eat. Where they eat most often is still up for debate. Some scientists believe they are primarily a mid-water feeder that swims around in large schools of fish and squid take big gulps. Other believe they primarily feed on the bottom ambushing prey and gulping it up. We still need more studies to figure out exactly how and where these sharks eat.

Prickly shark mouth close up showing
razor sharp teeth that have no serration. You can also see the oral papillae on the roof of the mouth that have taste buds on the end.
Prickly shark mouth close up with arrow indicating fold in the corner of their mouth that may be used to create suction when the shark is feeding and quickly opens it’s mouth (Motta 2004).

As will most sharks prickly sharks it likely takes them a very long time to achieve a size large enough to reproduce. Sexual maturity occurs at 290 cm total length (TL) for females and 240 cm TL for males (Compagno 1984). That means a female prickly shark has to be almost 10 ft long before it can have baby sharks!!! We don’t know how old prickly sharks get or how fast they grow. It is very likely they live a long time and grow slowly. This type of life history makes prickly sharks highly vulnerable to being over exploited so if you ever catch a prickly shark it would be a good idea to release it. We don’t know how often or where prickly sharks reproduce. We do know they live in submarine canyons, around sea mounts and in sandy habitats.