Plunket's Dogfish, Scymnodon macracanthus (Regan 1906)

Other Names: Largespine Velvet Dogfish, Lord Plunkets Shark, Lord Plunket's Shark, Plunket Shark, Plunkets Dogfish, Plunkets Shark, Plunket's Shark, Waites Deepsea Dogfish, Waite's Deepsea Dogfish

A female Plunket's Dogfish, Scymnodon macracanthus, 129.5 TL, from the North Island, New Zealand, October 2010. Source: Clinton Duffy / License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

A stout uniform dark greyish-brown to blackish shark with blackish edges to the fins and yellow-green eyes. Juveniles are greyish. Plunket's Dogfish has a stocky body that tapers abruptly from the large pectoral fins, and fairly prominent dorsal-fin spines. 

In Australia, this species was previously known as Scymnodon plunketi, a junior synonym.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Wood, D.R. 2021, Scymnodon macracanthus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 May 2024,

Plunket's Dogfish, Scymnodon macracanthus (Regan 1906)

More Info


Off New South Wales (including seamounts in the Tasman Sea) to off South Australia, including Tasmania, and south-west Western Australia. Elsewhere the species occurs in the Southern Hemisphere, with a patchy distribution in the Southwest Atlantic and Indo-Pacific, including New Zealand. Inhabits continental and insular slopes at depths of 180-1,550 m, most commonly below 600 m.


Vertebrae (precaudal) 84-85, (total) 114-115.  
Snout short (preoral length 5-8% TL), bluntly pointed; pectoral fins large, broad, tip and inner corner rounded.  Reaches 1.7 m.


Feeds mostly on bony fishes and cephalopod molluscs.


Attains a maximum size of 170 cm total length (TL), and the species may live at least 39 years. Males mature at 100-120 cm TL and 18 years of age, and females mature at 130-145 cm TL and 29 years of age. Females produce litters of up to 36 pups, which are born at 32-36 cm TL. Reproduction is lecithotrophic viviparous and presumed to be asynchronous.


Taken as bycatch in bottom trawl and longline fisheries throughout its range.


The specific name macracanthus is from the Greek macros (= large) and acanthus (= spine, thorn), in reference to the prominent dorsal-fin spines of this species.

Species Citation

Centrophorus macracanthus Regan 1906, Trans. N. Z. Inst. 42: 436. Type locality: Strait of Magellan (Chile).


Bray, D.J. & Wood, D.R. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Plunket's Dogfish, Scymnodon macracanthus (Regan 1906)


Bass, A.J. 1979. Records of little-known sharks from Australian waters. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 103(4): 247-254 figs 1-5 (as Centroscymnus plunketi)

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125. Rome : FAO Vol. 4(1) pp. 1-249. (as Centroscymnus macracanthus and Centroscymnus plunketi)

Compagno, L.J.V., Dando, M. & Fowler, S. 2005. A Field Guide to the Sharks of the World. London : Collins 368 pp. (as Proscymnodon macracanthus and Centroscymnus plunketi)  

Daley, R., Stevens, J. & Graham, K. 2002. Catch analysis and productivity of the deepwater dogfish resource in southern Australia. Report by CSIRO Marine Research and NSW Fisheries to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. FRDC Project 1998/108. (as Centroscymnus plunketi)   

Ebert, D.A. 2013. Deep–sea Cartilaginous Fishes of the Indian Ocean. Volume 1. Sharks. FAO Species Catalogue for Fishery Purposes. No. 8, Vol. 1. Rome, FAO. (as Scymnodon plunketi)  

Ebert, D.A. 2016. Deep-sea cartilaginous fishes of the Southeastern Pacific Ocean. FAO Species Catalogue for Fishery Purposes No. 10. Rome, FAO. 241 pp. See ref online

Ebert, D.A., Fowler, S. & Compagno, L. 2013. Sharks of the World. Wild Nature Press, Plymouth. (as Scymnodon plunketi)  

Finucci, B. & Kyne, P.M. 2018. Centroscymnus macracanthus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T116858686A116858705. Downloaded on 07 May 2021.

Garrick, J.A.F. 1959. Studies on New Zealand Elasmobranchii. Part IX — Scymnodon plunketi (Waite, 1910). An abundant deep-water shark of New Zealand waters. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 87(3,4): 271-282 figs 1-3. (as Scymnodon plunketi)  

Graham, K.J., Andrew, N.L. & Hodgson, K.E. 2001. Changes in the relative abundances of sharks and rays on Australian South East Fishery trawl grounds after twenty years of fishing. Marine and Freshwater Research 52: 549-561 (as Centroscymnus plunketi)   

Irvine, S.B. 2004. Age, growth and reproduction of deepwater dogfishes from southeastern Australia, PhD Thesis. Deakin University, Australia 397 pp.

Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs. (as Scymnodon plunketi

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia 2, 550 pp. (as Proscymnodon plunketi)

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia 2, 550 pp. (as Proscymnodon plunketi)

Regan, C.T. 1906. Descriptions of some new sharks in the British Museum collection. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 7 18(65): 435-440 See ref at BHL

Stead, D.G. 1963. Sharks and Rays of Australian Seas. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 211 pp. 63 figs. (as Scymnodon plunketi)  

Stevens, J.D. 1994. Families Echinorhinidae, Squalidae, Oxynotidae, Parascyllidae, Orectolobidae. pp. 91-118 figs 28-73 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs. (as Centroscymnus plunketi)

Stewart, A.L. & Last, P.R. 2015. 26 Family Somniosidae, pp. 148-161 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. (eds) The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 2 pp. 1-576. (as Centroscymnus macracanthus and Proscymnodon plunketi)

Taniuchi, T. & Garrick, J.A.F. 1986. A new species of Scymnodalatias from the southern oceans, and comments on other squaliform sharks. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 33(2): 119-134.

Thompson, E.F. 1930. New records of the genera Centrophorus and Hoplichthys in New Zealand. Records of the Canterbury Museum 3(4): 275-279 figs 42-44 (described as Centrophorus waitei)

Vaz, B.D.F. Scymnodon plunketi (Waite, 1910): a junior synonym of Scymnodon macracanthus (Regan, 1906) (Somniosidae: Elasmobranchii). Journal of Fish Biology 2021: 1– 23.

Waite, E.R. 1910. Notes on New Zealand fishes. Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 42: 384-391 figs 37-38 (described as Scymnodon plunketi)

Weigmann, S. 2016. Annotated checklist of the living sharks, batoids and chimaeras (Chondrichthyes) of the world, with a focus on biogeographical diversity. Journal of Fish Biology 88(3): 837-1037,

White, W. 2008. Shark Families Heterodontidae to Pristiophoridae. pp. 32-100 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. [93] (as Centroscymnus plunketi)

White, W.T., Vaz, D.F.B., Ho, H.-C., Ebert, D.A., de Carvalho, M.R., Corrigan, S., Rochel, E., de Carvalho, M., Tanaka, S. & Naylor, G.J.P. 2015. Redescription of Symnodon ichiharai Yano and Tanaka 1984 (Squaliformes: Somniosidae) from the western North Pacific, with comments on the definition of somniosid genera. Ichthyological Research 62(2): 213–229

Whitley, G.P. 1934. Notes on some Australian sharks. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 10(4): 180-200 figs 1-4 pls 27-29 (as Proscymnodon plunketi)

Whitley, G.P. 1940. The Fishes of Australia. Part 1. The sharks, rays, devil-fish, and other primitive fishes of Australia and New Zealand. Sydney : Roy. Zool. Soc. N.S.W. 280 pp. 303 figs. (as Proscymnodon waitei)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37020013

Biology:Viviparous (likely matrotrophic)

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Depth:180-1550 m

Habitat:Benthopelagic, continental slope

Max Size:170 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map