Bramble Shark, Echinorhinus brucus (Bonnaterre 1788)

Other Names: Spinous Shark

The dried holotype of Echinorhinuc mccoyi - a junior synonym of Echinorhinus brucus. Source: Museums Victoria. License: CC by Attribution


A large flabby deepwater shark with large denticles scattered irregularly over the body.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Echinorhinus brucus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 Jan 2020,

Bramble Shark, Echinorhinus brucus (Bonnaterre 1788)

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Found worldwide, although with a patchy distribution. The Bramble Shark lives on or near the bottom on the continental slope in depths of 200-900 m.


Body robust, streamlined; caudal peduncle without keels; precaudal pits present. Head conical; snout short (length to mouth approx. 8% TL), bluntly rounded; eyes small; nostrils not connected to mouth by groove; spiracles minute; mouth about half as high as broad; labial furrows confined to corners of mouth; teeth small, similar in both jaws, each with large major cusp flanked by one or two minor cusps on each side, main cusps sharply pointed, smooth-edged, outwardly oblique; five relatively large gill slits in front of pectoral fin.

Body covered in large, prominent shield-like dermal denticles (up to 1.5 cm or more in basal diameter) bearing central spines, sparsely and irregularly distributed; adults with noticeable denticles under snout and around mouth; lateral line noticeably distinct as white furrow from above gill slits to tip of tail.

Two dorsal fins without spines, situated well back on body, sub-equal in size, brush- shaped, origin of first dorsal over anterior third of ventral-fin base; interspace between dorsal fins approx. 80% length of first dorsal base; anal fin absent; caudal fin scythe-shaped, without sub-terminal notch.  Pectoral fins paddle-like. Pelvic fins much larger than dorsal fins.


Dark purplish greyish to brown above,  with whitish denticles, and sometimes with dark spots; paler below.


Feeds on deep-water bony fishes, sharks, crustaceans and squids.


Little is known of the biology of the Bramble Shark. It is aplacental viviparous (previously called ovoviviparous) - females give birth to live young and the developing embryos obtain their nutrients from an external yolk sac - there is no placenta.

Females give birth to 10-52 pups per litter. The young are born at a length of 42-46 cm.


Taken as bycatch in commercial trawls and by deep hook and line.


Dianne J. Bray

Bramble Shark, Echinorhinus brucus (Bonnaterre 1788)


Akhilesh, K.V., Bineesh, K.K., White, W.T., Shanis, C.P.R., Hashim, M., Ganga, U. & Pillai, N.G.K. (2013), Catch composition, reproductive biology and diet of the bramble shark Echinorhinus brucus (Squaliformes: Echinorhinidae) from the south-eastern Arabian Sea. Journal of Fish Biology. doi: 10.1111/jfb.12201

Bass, A.J., D’Aubrey, J.D. & Kistnasamy, N. (1976). Sharks of the east coast of southern Africa. VI. The families Oxynotidae, Squalidae, Dalatidae and Echinorhinidae. Oceanographic Research Institute Investigational Report 45: 1-103.

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO, Australia.

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 4. Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. No. 125, vol. 4.

Garrick, J.A.F. 1960. Studies on New Zealand Elasmobranchii. Part X. The genus Echinorhinus, with an account of a second species, E. cookei Pietschmann, 1928, from New Zealand waters. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 88(1): 105–117.

Musick, J.A. & McEachran, J.D. 1969. The squaloid shark Echinorhinus brucus off Virginia. Copeia 1969(1): 205–206.

Paul, L. (SSG Australia & Oceania Regional Workshop, March 2003) 2003. Echinorhinus brucus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <>. Downloaded on 09 November 2012.

Silas, E.G. & Selvaraj, G.S.D. 1972. Descriptions of the adult and embryo of the bramble shark Echinorhinus brucus (Bonnaterre) obtained from the continental slope of India. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of India 14(1): 395–401.

Stewart, A.L. 2001. Bramble sharks: prickly customers. Seafood New Zealand 9(3): 70–73.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37022001


Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Depth:200-900 m

Habitat:Lives near the bottom

Max Size:3.1 m

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