Southern Sleeper Shark, Somniosus antarcticus Whitley 1939

Other Names: Pacific Sleeper Shark, Sleeper Shark

A Southern Sleeper Shark, Somniosus antarcticus. Source: CSIRO National Fish Collection. License: CC BY Attribution

A very large robust and sluggish shark with a short, rounded snout, small eyes, relatively small dorsal and pectoral fins, small gill slits positioned low on the head, and no anal fin. Body a mottled brown, greyish to black.

Until 2004 when it was shown to be a distinct species, the Southern Sleeper Shark was usually referred to either as the Greenland shark, Somniosus microcephalus, or the Pacific sleeper shark, Somniosus pacifius.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Somniosus antarcticus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 May 2024,

Southern Sleeper Shark, Somniosus antarcticus Whitley 1939

More Info


Recorded in Australia from off Portland, Victoria and seamounts south of Tasmania. Found elsewhere in the Southern Ocean.


Carnivore - feeds mostly on squids and fishes.


Occasionally caught as bycatch in deepwater trawl and longline fisheries such as the Orange Roughy and Patagonian Toothfish fisheries. Although usually released when captured in the Toothfish fishery, nothing is known of survival rates.

Species Citation

Somniosus antarcticus Whitley 1939, Australian Zoologist 9(3): 242. Type locality: Macquarie Island.


Dianne J. Bray

Southern Sleeper Shark, Somniosus antarcticus Whitley 1939


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. (105, as Somniosus pacificus, in part)

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

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls. (89, as Somniosus pacificus)

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. (as Somniosus pacificus)

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

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. (152, fig. 170, Macquarie Island, figure of holotype)

Stevens, J. (SSG Australia & Oceania Regional Workshop, March 2003) 2003. Somniosus antarcticus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. . Downloaded on 26 November 2013.

Yano, K., J.D. Stevens & L.J.V. Compagno. 2004. A review of the systematics of the sleeper shark genus Somniosus with redescriptions of Somniosus (Somniosus) antarcticus and Somniosus (Rhinoscymnus) longus (Squaliformes: Somniosidae). Ichthyol. Res. 51: 360-373.

Yano, K., J.D. Stevens & L.J.V. Compagno. 2007. Distribution, reproduction and feeding of the Greenland shark Somniosus (Somniosus) microcephalus, with notes on two other sleeper sharks, Somniosus (Somniosus) pacificus and Somniosus (Somniosus) antarcticus. J. Fish Biol. 70: 374-390.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37020036

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Depth:300-1440 m


Max Size:4.8 m

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map