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 Cookiecutter shark (Isistius brasiliensis)

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Cookiecutter shark
No image of Cookiecutter shark found in the Shark Database
 Range Map

Earth Map


Phylum: Vertebates (Chordata)

Class: Carlilagenous Fishes (Chondrichthyes)
  Order: Dogfish sharks (Squaliformes)
    Family: Dogfish sharks (Squalidae)
      Genus: Isistius (Isistius)


Scientific: Isistius brasiliensis
German: Zigarrenhai
English: Cookiecutter shark
French: Squalelet feroce
Spanish: Tollo cigarro


A small, cigar-shaped body. Two very small, spineless dorsal fins. Origin of first dorsal fin in front of the pelvic fins. The space between the two dorsal fins is more than twice the base of the first dorsal fin. Large eyes, more terminally positioned such that a frontal view looks like a "face". (Contrary to this, requiem sharks have their eyes on the side of their heads). Bulbous snout. Nearly symmetrical caudal fin. No anal fin.


Dark brown with white ventral surface. Dark collar-marking over the branchial region. Luminous organs that cover the entire lower surface of the trunk, producing a greenish light.


Probably worldwide in tropical waters. Western Atlantic: Bahamas, southern Brazil to Cape Verde Islands, southern Angola to South Africa. Mauritius to New Guinea and western Australia. Japan to Hawaiian Islands, and Galapagos.


Lives in epipelagic and bathypelagic waters between 80 m and about 3500 m, but can come to the surface at night during diurnal migrations. This species possesses very strong teeth (sawlike dentition) and jaws, and sutorial lips that allow it to attach on bigger animals and bite chunks out of them (e.g. on dolphins, marlins, megamouth sharks and others). The wounds are circle-shaped,as caused by the twisting shark, and give the shark its name. They can live as ectoparasites.


Mainly cephalopods, but can live as ectoparasites.


Average size between 30 cm and 40 cm, maximum total length about 50 cm.


Unknown, though most likely aplacental viviparous (ovoviviparous). Litter size between 6 and 7 pups. Males reach sexual maturity with about 38 cm, females with about 40 cm.

 Similar Species

The Largetooth cookiecutter shark looks very similar but has no collar-marking over the branchial region.


Status in the IUCN Red List:

No Entry found in Red List.

 Danger to Humans


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