Harrisson's Dogfish, Centrophorus harrissoni McCulloch 1915

Other Names: Dumb Gulper Shark, Dumb Shark, Endeavour Dogfish, Harrisons Deepsea Dogfish, Harrisons Dogfish

Harrisson's Dogfish, Centrophorus harrissoni. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


A small grey to greyish-brown shark with a paler underside, a dark anterior blotch and a white margin on both dorsal fins, and greenish eyes. The pectoral fins have elongate posterior tips, and the second dorsal fin is smaller than the first.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Centrophorus harrissoni in Fishes of Australia, accessed 04 Mar 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/3420

Harrisson's Dogfish, Centrophorus harrissoni McCulloch 1915

More Info


South-eastern Australia and adjacent seamounts from southern Queensland, to eastern Bass Strait, Victoria, including eastern Tasmania, S of South East Cape, and seamounts off Queensland and New South Wales, from Fraser Seamount, NE of Fraser Island to Taupo Seamount, ENE of Sydney, New South Wales; also the Lord Howe Province and the Norfolk Ridge in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in the south-west Pacific (New Zealand, Kermadec Ridge).
The species is benthopelagic on the continental slope, mostly at depths of 350–800 m.


Head long & robust, eyes large; snout long & flattened, mouth large; two dorsal fins, the first larger than the second, each with a short spine; upper caudal-fin lobe longer than lower lobe.


Maximum size 112 cm total length (TL); males mature at ~84 cm TL; females mature at ~99 cm TL; size-at-birth is estimated at 32–40 cm TL. 
Males attain a maximum length of 95–99 cm TL. Females attain a maximum length of 112–114 cm TL. Males mature at about 83 cm TL and females at about 98 cm TL.


Stomach contents show that the species feeds mostly on small bony fishes, with lanternfishes (Myctophidae) comprising more than 80%, with squids around 20%. The species also consumes crustaceans. 
Lanternfishes and deepwater squids are mostly mesopelagic, and Harrisson's Dogfish has large, iridescent green eyes presumably to find their lanternfish prey in the twilight zone above the seafloor.


Reproduction is aplacental viviparous. Fecundity is very low, with females producing one or two pups per litter every two years. Females mature between 23–36 years, however immature females have been found up to 32 years of age. Males mature between 15–34 years of age, with immature males found up to 27 years of age.


In Australian state and Commonwealth fisheries, Harrisson’s Dogfish were historically targeted for their meat and liver oil, and suffered dramatic population declines during the 1980s and 1990s. Although targeted fishing had ended by 2005, the species has very low fecundity and populations may take many years, even decades, to recover. 
To halt the decline and support the recovery of Harrisson’s Dogfish and Southern Dogfish in offshore waters managed by the Commonwealth, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) implemented the Upper Slope Dogfish Management Strategy. A network of areas − large enough to ensure males and females can meet to breed − were completely closed to fishing. 
Electronic tagging at the largest closure off South Australia indicated that most Southern Dogfish stay inside the closure. Outside the closures, live sharks taken as bycatch were released. Restrictions implemented in New South Wales limited the combined catches of Harrisson’s Dogfish to 15kg per day in trawl, trap and line fisheries.


Harrisson’s Dogfish populations are estimated to have declined by more than 90% in parts of their range off southern New South Wales and eastern Victoria. As a result, the species was listed as Conservation Dependent under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act in June 2013.


Due to the low fecundity and late maturity, even low bycatch levels may threaten the recovery of gulper shark populations.


The species is named in honour of Charles Turnbull Harrisson, biologist aboard the F.I.S. Endeavour, the fisheries vessel that collected the holotype. Harrisson was responsible for collecting and preserving many of the “more interesting” fishes during the “fishing experiments” of the Endeavour.

Species Citation

Centrophorus harrissoni McCulloch 1915, Biological Results of the Fishing Experiments carried on by the F.I.S. Endeavour 1909-1914 3(3): 99, pl. 14(1-4). Type locality: near Gabo Island, Victoria.


Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Harrisson's Dogfish, Centrophorus harrissoni McCulloch 1915


Andrew, N.L., Graham, K.J., Hodgson, K.E. & Gordon, G.N.G. 1997. Changes after twenty years in relative abundance and size composition of commercial fishes caught during fishery independent surveys on SEF trawl grounds. NSW Fisheries Final Report Series No. 1 FRDC Project No. 96/139

Cavanagh, R.D., Kyne, P,M., Fowler, S.L., Musick, J.A. & Bennett, M.B. (eds). 2003. The Conservation Status of Australian Chondrichthyans: Report of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group Australia and Oceania Regional Red List Workshop. The University of Queensland, School of Biomedical Sciences, Brisbane, Australia. x + 170pp

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.

Compagno, L.J.V., Dando, M. & Fowler, S. 2005. A Field Guide to the Sharks of the World. London : Collins 368 pp.

Daley, R., Smith, A., Williams, A., Green, M. & Fuller, M. 2010. Evaluation of network closure options for Harrissons Dogfish and Southern Dogfish. SEMAC Discussion Paper. CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Hobart.

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.

Daley, R.K., Stevens, J.D., Last, P.R. & Yearsley, G.K. 2002. Field Guide to Australian Sharks & Rays. Hobart : CSIRO Marine Research 84 pp.

Duffy, C.A.J. 2007. First record of Centrophorus harrissoni from New Zealand, with observations on squamation in Centrophoridae (Squaliformes). New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 41: 163-173. https://doi.org/10.1080/00288330709509905

Duffy, C.A.J., Stewart, A.L., Last, P.R. & Kawauchi, J. 2015. 24 Family Centrophoridae, pp. 132-138 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 2 pp. 1-576.

Finucci, B., Cheok, J., Cotton, C.F., Kulka, D.W., Neat, F.C., Rigby, C.L., Tanaka, S. & Walker, T.I. 2020. Centrophorus harrissoni. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T41740A68614118. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T41740A68614118.en. Downloaded on 07 August 2021.

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. Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 52: 549-561.

Graham, K.G. & Daley, R.K. 2011. Distribution, reproduction and population structure of three gulper sharks (Centrophorus, Centrophoridae) in south-east Australian waters. Marine and Freshwater Research 62(6): 583-595 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF10158

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls.

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

Macbeth, W.G., Vandenberg, M. & Graham, K.J. 2008. Identifying Sharks and Rays; a Guide for Commercial Fishers. Sydney : New South Wales Department of Primary Industry 71 pp.

McCulloch, A.R. 1915. Report on some fishes obtained by the F.I.S. Endeavour on the coasts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South and South-Western Australia. Part 3. Biological Results of the Fishing Experiments carried on by the F.I.S. Endeavour 1909-1914 3(3): 97-170 figs 1-3 pls 13-37 See ref at BHL

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

Tilzey, R.D.J. & Rowling, K.R. 2001. History of Australia's South East Fishery: a scientist's perspective. Marine and Freshwater Research 52: 361-375.

Walker, T.I., Stevens, J.D., Braccini, J.M., Daley, R.K., et al. 2008. Rapid assessment of sustainability for ecological risk of shark and other chondrichthyan bycatch species taken in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. Final report to Fisheries Research and Development Corporation Project No. 2002/033. 354 + v pp. (Fisheries Research Brand: Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia).

White, W.T., Ebert, D.A. & Compagno, L.J.V. 2008. Description of two new species of gulper sharks, genus Centrophorus (Chondrichthyes: Squaliformes: Centrophoridae) from Australia. pp. 1-21 in Last, P.R., White, W.T. & Pogonoski, J.J. (eds). Descriptions of new Australian chondrichthyans. CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Paper No. 022: 1-358 http://hdl.handle.net/102.100.100/118353?index=1

White, W.T., Ebert, D.A. & Naylor, G.J.P. 2017. Revision of the genus Centrophorus (Squaliformes: Centrophoridae): Part 2--Description of two new species of Centrophorus and clarification of the status of Centrophorus lusitanicus Barbosa du Bocage & de Brito Capello, 1864. Zootaxa 4344(1): 86-114 https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4344.1.3

White, W.T., Ebert, D.A. & Naylor, G.J.P., Ho, H.-C., Clerkin, P., Veríssimo, A. & Cotton, C.F. 2013. Revision of the genus Centrophorus (Squaliformes: Centrophoridae): Part 1- Redescription of Centrophorus granulosus (Bloch & Schneider), a senior synonym of C. acus Garman and C. niaukang Teng. Zootaxa 3752(1): 35-72. https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3752.1.5

Wilson, D.T., Patterson, H.M., Summerson, R. & Hobsbawn, P.I. 2009. Information to support management options for upper-slope gulper sharks (including Harrisson’s dogfish and southern dogfish). Final Report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation Project No. 2008/65. Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37020001

Conservation:IUCN Endangered

Depth:220-680 m

Fishing:Fished commercially (historically)

Habitat:Continental Slope

Max Size:112 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map