Echinorhinus Brucus



Offshore, Deepwater

200 - 440 pounds

57" - 122"

Bramble Shark

Also Known As: Spiny Shark  

Bramble Shark (Echinorhinus brucus) Fish Description

Also known as a spiny shark or spinous shark, and mango-tara, the Bramble Shark is one of the two members of the Echinorhinidae family. The identifying feature of the Bramble Sharks is their dermal denticles (looking like thorns) scattered all over its thick and cylindrical body.

The Bramble Shark has a slightly flattened head and a blunt snout that is shorter than the width of its mouth. Its nostrils are very widely spaced and have small flaps of skin. The Bramble Shark’s mouth has short furrows at the edges. It has 22 to 26 lower tooth rows and 20 to 26 upper tooth rows both containing teeth as sharp as a knife. The Bramble Shark has five pairs of gill slits but no anal fin. Its dorsal fins lack spines.

The body of the Bramble Shark is generally brown to black on the upper part and metallic purplish below. Some Bramble Sharks may have black or red blotches. 


Diet and Size

Bony fishes (lizardfishes, catfishes, lings), crabs, and smaller sharks (like the spiny dogfish) are some of the Bramble Shark’s favorites.

The Bramble Shark can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh up to 440 pounds.


Interesting Facts About the Bramble Shark 

  • A female Bramble Shark can produce a litter of 15 to 52 pups; it is an aplacental viviparous — meaning,  the eggs remain in the mother’s womb until they are ready for hatching.
  • The Bramble Shark’s skin is covered by several millimeters thick of disgusting-smelling mucus.
  • Some of the Bramble Shark’s denticles may combine to create multi-pointed plates.
  • French naturalist Pierre Bonnaterre was the first to describe the Bramble Shark, originally naming it Squalus brucus.
  • The Greek brux or brucios from which brucus was derived means ‘from the depths of the sea’. On the other hand, Echnorhinus which is from the Greek word echinos means ‘sea urchin, or hedgehog’.
  • Bramble Sharks are naturally sluggish and slow swimmers.
  • The Bramble Sharks catch their prey through suction.


Bramble Shark — Fishing Techniques

Luckily for anglers, Bramble Sharks are not considered dangerous to humans. Instead, they are an occasional bycatch of recreational and commercial fishers who use bottom trawls or fishing lines. They are harvested for their liver oil and also eaten. In South Africa, the Bramble Shark’s liver oil is prized as medicine.

The IUCN has not classified the status of this species as of this writing. However, reports show that over the centuries, the population of Bramble Sharks has been declining since the 18th to 19th centuries due to overfishing.


Habitat and Distribution

This rarely-encountered shark species prefers the bottom of the seafloor as deep as 1,300 to 3,000 feet. Bramble Sharks originally come from the temperate and tropical waters all over the globe except the eastern Pacific Ocean. Most of them are natives from the western Indian Ocean and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. They can also be found in the Mediterranean Sea, and from the North Sea and the British Isles to Mozambique. 

Bramble Sharks are also sighted in the Indo-Pacific, particularly in New Zealand, southern Australia, southern Japan, Oman, and even Kiribati. In the US, a handful of Bramble Sharks have been found in North Carolina, Tobago, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Argentina, and Brazil.

Other Images of Bramble Shark