Ecology of Somniosus microcephalus
Main Ref. Compagno, L.J.V., D.A. Ebert and M.J. Smale, 1989
Marine - Neritic
  • supra-littoral zone
  • littoral zone
  • sublittoral zone
Marine - Oceanic
  • epipelagic
  • mesopelagic
  • epipelagic
  • abyssopelagic
  • hadopelagic
  • estuaries/lagoons/brackish seas
  • mangroves
  • marshes/swamps
  • rivers/streams
  • lakes/ponds
  • caves
  • exclusively in caves
Highighted items on the list are where Somniosus microcephalus may be found.
Remarks Reported abundant on continental and insular shelves and upper slopes down to at least 1,200 m (Ref. 247) and recorded to as deep as 2,200 m (Ref. 55584) on theh Mid-Atlantic Ridge (Ref. 119696). Epibenthic-pelagic (Ref. 58426). In the Arctic and boreal Atlantic, it occurs inshore in the intertidal and at the surface in shallow bays and river mouths during colder months, retreating to depths of 180-550 m when the temperature rises (Ref. 247). Feeds on pelagic and bottom fishes (herring, spiny eels, Atlantic salmon, Arctic char, smelt, gadoids including cod, ling, pollock and haddock, capelin, redfish, sculpins, lumpfish, Atlantic halibut, Greenland halibut, wolf-fish, redfish (Sebastes) and skates and their egg cases (Ref. 247, 5951), marine mammals, seals (common prey and possibly taken alive) and small cetaceans (most probably mostly as carrion), sea birds, squids, crabs, amphipods, marine snails, brittle stars, sea urchins, and jellyfish. Known to voraciously devour carrion and offal from whaling, sealing and fishing operations (Ref. 247, 58240).


Substrate Ref.
Special habitats
Special habitats Ref.


Ref. Scott, W.B. and M.G. Scott, 1988
Associations parasitism;
Associated with
Association remarks Petromyzon marinus was reported to have been attached to S. microcephalus (Ref. 58185). Ommatokoita elongata (copepod) is a parasite of the species, attached to the cornea of its eye. Usually only one copepod on each eye and these are highly conspicuous and may be luminescent. The relationship was speculated to be mutualistic and beneficial with the copepods serving as lures to bring preys in proximity of their host (field observations necessary to confirm this parasite's role) (Ref. 247, 5951).
Parasitism outside host (attached to the skin) inside host (cornea)


Feeding type mainly animals (troph. 2.8 and up)
Feeding type ref Compagno, L.J.V., D.A. Ebert and M.J. Smale, 1989
Feeding habit hunting macrofauna (predator)
Feeding habit ref
Trophic level(s)
Original sample Unfished population Remark
Estimation method Troph s.e. Troph s.e.
From diet composition 4.22 0.57 4.14 0.53 Troph of juv./adults from 1 study.
Ref. Cort├ęs, E., 1999
From individual food items 4.31 0.69 Trophic level estimated from a number of food items using a randomized resampling routine.
(e.g. 346)
(e.g. cnidaria)
Entered by Sa-a, Pascualita on 09.16.99
Modified by Capuli, Estelita Emily on 03.26.19
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