Common name: Goblin sharks


A bizarre deep-water family with a single living species, the Goblin Shark, Mitsukurina owstoni. Goblin sharks are long and slender with a flabby body, a long flattened blade-like snout and highly protrusible jaws armed with long narrow grasping teeth.

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Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Goblin sharks, MITSUKURINIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 May 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

The Family contains a single living species, Mitsukurina owstoni.

Family Distribution

A wide-ranging but relatively rare benthopelagic shark found on outer continental shelves, continental slopes, and off seamounts and rises worldwide in depths of 270-1300 m.

In Australian waters, known from off Sydney (New South Wales) to off the Murray River mouth, at depths of 400-1300 m.

Family Description

Family Size

To 390 cm - a mature male.

Family Colour

Usually greyish in colour. Specimens often appear pinkish grey due to damage to blood vessels when they are caught in trawls.

Family Feeding

Carnivore, feeding mostly on bony fishes, and also on squids and crustaceans.

Family Reproduction

Little is known of reproduction in Goblin Sharks. Like other members of the Order Lamniformes, they are presumably ovoviviparous, with the eggs maturing and hatching inside the female before she gives birth to live young.

Family Commercial

Taken occasionally as bycatch in commercial fisheries, by deepwater set nets, longlines and trawls.

Family Conservation

Family Remarks

Family Biology


Dianne J. Bray

Family Resources


Bean, B.A. 1905. Notes on an adult goblin shark (Mitsukurina owstoni) of Japan. Proc. U .S. Natl Mus. 28: 815–818.

Compagno, L.J.V. 2001. Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date, vol 2. Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks (Heterodontiformes, Lamniformes and Orectolobiformes). FAO species catalogue for Fishery purposes.

Glover, C.J.M. 1976. The goblin shark Scapanorhynchus owstoni (Jordan, 1898): confi rmation of the first Australian record. South Aust. Nat. 50: 69–72

Jordan DS (1898) Description of a species of fi sh (Mitsukurina owstoni) from Japan, the type of a distinct family of lamnoid sharks. Proc Calif Acad Sci (Ser 3) 1: 199–2041. Rome, FAO.

Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. 2nd Ed. CSIRO Publishing. 644 p, 91 pls.

Stevens JD, Paxton JR (1985) A new record of the goblin shark, Mitsukurina owstoni (family Mitsukurinidae), from eastern Australia. Proc Linn Soc N S W 108: 37–45.

Yano, K., Miya, M., Aizawa, M. & T. Noichi. 2007. Some aspects of the biology of the goblin shark, Mitsukurina owstoni, collected from the Tokyo Submarine Canyon and adjacent waters, Japan. Ichthyol Res 54: 388–398.