The body of the bramble shark (Echinorhinus brucus) is stout, soft and flabby
with a cylindrical trunk. The snout is short and depressed and the gill openings are
large, especially the fifth. Large denticles cover the ventral side of the snout. The
mouth is broadly arched with short labial folds. The nostrils are widely spaced apart
and have short anterior flaps. Spiracles are present posterior to the eyes. There are
two equally sized, spineless dorsal fins located far back on the body, just posterior to
the origin of the pelvic fin.
This deepwater shark is dark gray, olive, purple, black, or brown with metallic
reflections on the dorsal side. It occasionally has darker blotches. Ventrally, it is
pale brown or gray to white. The denticles have been described as luminescent, however
there are no special luminous organs. The maximum reported size of the bramble shark is
3.1m total length (TL). Males mature at 4.9-5.7 feet (1.50-1.74 m) and females at 7-7.5
feet (2.13-2.30 m). Total length-weights at selected sizes include 11.8 inches (embryo)/0.24
pounds, 59 inches/44 pounds, 63 inches/64 pounds, 67 inches/99 pounds, 85 inches/172 pounds,
and 100 inches/300 pounds (30 cm (embryo)/110 g, 150 cm/20 kg, 162 cm/29 kg, 170 cm/45 kg,
216 cm/78.2 kg, and 254 cm/136 kg).
The multicuspid teeth are similar in both jaws. Each is strongly compressed with a single
cusp and up to three cusplets. These cusplets are lacking in juveniles. The teeth are curved
toward the corners of the jaws, forming a cutting blade. The upper jaw contains 20-26 teeth
while the lower jaw has 22-26 teeth.
The bramble shark is primarily a deepwater, bottom-dwelling shark that are found on deeper
portions of the continental shelf and upper slope. The recorded depth range is 60-2,950 feet
(18-900 m), however they are much more common at depths greater than 650 feet (200 m). It is
considered a rather sluggish shark.
There have been five reports of the bramble shark in the western North Atlantic Ocean
region. These range from Cape Cod, off the Virginia coast, and the northern Gulf of Mexico.
In the eastern Atlantic, this shark has been observed from the North Sea Southward to Ivory
Coast, including the Mediterranean Sea. This species is also known in the south Atlantic from
Argentina in the west and from Namibia to the Cape of Good Hope in the east. Elsewhere they
have been caught in the Indian Ocean and in the western Pacific Ocean.
Bramble sharks eat a variety of bony fishes, small sharks, and crabs.
This shark has an ovoviviparous reproductive mode. The females have 15-24 pups per litter which each measure 15.7-19.7 inches (40-50 cm) total length. The reproductive cycle and gestation period are unknown for this species.