Bigspine Spookfish, Harriotta raleighana Goode & Bean 1895

Other Names: Longnose Spookfish, Bentnose Rabbitfish, Longnose Chimaera, Longnosed Chimaera, Long-nosed Chimaera, Narrownose Chimaera, Pacific Longnose Chimaera, Ratfish, Spookfish

A Bigspine Spookfish, Harriotta raleighana, in the Gulf of Mexico, 22 April 2012. Source: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition. License: CC by Attribution

A long-nosed chimaera with a very long flattened snout that may be upturned, a long dorsal-fin spine, and no fleshy tubercles on the upper margin of the caudal fin. The Bigspine Spookfish is uniformly chocolate brown becoming paler below, with paler fins and a pale green iris.
Video of a Bigspine Spookfish in the abyss of the South Atlantic Ocean, in the Angolan maritime zone, depth 1470 m.

Extraordinary video of a Longspine Spookfish, swimming 10 metres above the seafloor in Hydrographer Canyon during Dive 05, July 13, of the Okeanos Explorer Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition 2013. Video courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Harriotta raleighana in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 Jul 2024,

Bigspine Spookfish, Harriotta raleighana Goode & Bean 1895

More Info


Recorded off southern Australia from off Broken Bay, New South Wales, to off Geraldton, Western Australia. Elsewhere, the species is circumglobal, being absent from the tropics except in the western Indian Ocean.


Body elongate, maximum depth (approx. 13% body length to rear end of caudal fin) about level with dorsal fin spines, tapering to long filamentous tail that reaches beyond caudal fin; sides compressed. Head large (approx. 31% body length to rear end of caudal fin); snout very long, dorsoventrally flattened and pointed; eyes large; spiracles absent; mouth small, inferior; tooth plates beak-like with cutting edge, surfaces with ridges and rounded knobs; single small gill opening on each side of head, restricted to lower part of body in front of pectoral-fin bases. Scales only present on male claspers and tenaculum; lateral line branching over head, looping slightly under dorsal spine then extending back along sides in a nearly straight line; oral and jugular lateral sensory canals meeting orbital canal jointly or separately. Double row of small strong spines beneath skin dorsally on head behind interorbital space, in front of first dorsal fin, and between second dorsal fin and caudal fin.  

Two dorsal fins, first with short base, connected with second dorsal by low fold of skin; second dorsal with long base, low, extending from in advance of pelvic fins to above origin of lower caudal fin, well short of upper caudal fin; first dorsal with very strong slightly curved spine reaching at least to tip of fin, spine with posterior groove and serrated hind edges; anal fin absent, but caudal peduncle with shallow fold of skin continuous with and extending forward from lower caudal fin;  upper caudal fin commencing behind origin of lower caudal, less deep and shorter than lower, the two symmetrical posteriorly.

Pectoral fins very large (approx. 26% body length to rear end of caudal fin), rounded in young, sub-falcate in older individuals, extending back to just behind ventral-fin bases. Pelvic fins originating at or just behind middle of body excluding filament, rounded posteriorly; claspers of male simple, unbranched


Recorded to reach a total length of 120 cm; females grow to a larger size than males.


Reportedly feeds mostly on shellfish and crustaceans.


Very little is known of the biology of this species. Females grow larger than males; size at maturity for males is ~25−30 cm body length (BDL) and for females, it is  ~30 cm BDL; size at birth is ~10−13 cm precaudal length. Females lay small dark brown elongate egg capsules with pale amber ribbed flanges along each side - about 16.5 cm in length. The young reportedly hatch in summer.


Taken occasionally as bycatch in deepwater trawl fisheries.

Species Citation

Harriotta raleighana Goode & Bean, 1895, Proc. U. S. Natl Mus. 17(1014): 472, pl. 19. Type locality: north-west Atlantic, USA. 


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Bigspine Spookfish, Harriotta raleighana Goode & Bean 1895


Anderson, O.F. & Clark, M.R. 2003. Analysis of bycatch in the fishery for orange roughy, Hoplostethus atlanticus, on the South Tasman Rise. Marine and Freshwater Research 54: 643–652.

Dagit, D.D., Walls, R.H.L. & Buscher, E. 2016. Harriotta raleighana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T60140A3088899. Downloaded on 21 October 2016.

Ebert, D.A., Bigman, J.S. & Lawson, J.M. 2017. Chapter Two - Biodiversity, life history, and conservation of northeastern Pacific chondrichthyans. Advances in Marine Biology 77: 9-78. Abstract

Ebert, D.A. & Stehmann, M.F.W. 2013. Sharks, batoids, and chimaeras of the North Atlantic. FAO Species Catalogue for Fishery Purposes No. 7. FAO, Rome.

Fowler, H.W. 1941. Contributions to the biology of the Philippine Archipelago and adjacent regions. The fishes of the groups Elasmobranchii, Holocephali, Isospondyli and Ostariophysi obtained by the United States Bureau of Fisheries Steamer Albatross in 1907 to 1910, chiefly in the Philippine Islands and adjacent seas. Bulletin of the United States National Museum 100(13): 1-879 figs 1-30

Garrick, J.A.F. 1971. Harriotta raleighana, a long-nosed chimaera (family Rhinochimaeridae), in New Zealand waters. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 1(3/4): 203-213 fig. 1

Garrick, J.A.F. & Inada, T. 1975. Dimensions of long-nosed chimaera Harriotta raleighana from New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 9(2): 159-167.

Glover, C.J.M. 1994. Families Chimaeridae, Callorhynchidae, Rhinochimaeridae. pp. 185-193 figs 164-192 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.

Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Dasyatidae, Myliobatidae, Chimaeridae, Callorhinchidae, Rhinochimaeridae. 138-149 pp. in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds) Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Goode, G.B. & Bean, T.H. 1895. Scientific results of explorations by the U.S. Fish Commission Steamer Albatross. No. 30. On Harriotta, a new type of chimaeroid fish from the deeper waters of the northwestern Atlantic. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 17(1014): 471-473 pl. 19.

Kemper, J.M., Ebert, D.A. & Didier, D.D. 2015. 6 Family Rhinochimaeridae, pp 50-53 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.

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

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.

McMillan, P.J., Francis, M.P., James, G.D., Paul, L.J., Marriott, P.J., Mackay, E., Wood, B.A., Griggs, L.H., Sui, H. & Wei, F. 2011. New Zealand fishes. Volume 1: A field guide to common species caught by bottom and midwater fishing. New Zealand Aquatic Environment and Biodiversity Report No. 68. 329 pp.

Stehmann, M. & Bürkel, D.L. 1984. Rhinochimaeridae, pp. 216-218 in Whitehead, P.J.P., Bauchot, M.-L., Hureau, J.-C., Nielsen, J. & Tortonese, E. (eds) Fishes of the north-eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. Paris : UNESCO Vol. 1 510 pp. figs.
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 Abstract

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37044001

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:350-2600 m


Max Size:120 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map