Amending the understanding of deep-sea Gulper sharks of India

  • Sharks
Years funded
  • 2021
  • Active
Project type
  • Research

Ebeena is uncovering new information about the abundance and diversity of gulper sharks. Her focus is on three landing sites where deep-sea fish are brought ashore, where she collects tissue samples and documents bycatch from these fisheries. The project aims to clarify any taxonomic confusion about gulper sharks, and will centre on Cochin in Kerala on India’s southwest coast, Thothoor in Tamil Nadu on India’s southeast coast and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Amending the understanding of deep-sea Gulper sharks of India

Ebeena Francis

Project leader
About the project leader

Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by the ocean and the life under it. I was born and raised in the town of Kochi – popularly known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea – on India’s south-western coast in the state of Kerala. Growing up in a seaside town, I spent most of my childhood exploring the coastline. Crabs were my best friends and playing around them was my ultimate happiness. In those young days, I was very frightened of sharks and scary movies and stories about them were the stuff of nightmares for me. That...

PROJECT LOCATION : Off Kerala, southwest coast of India and Off Tuticorin, southeast coast of India
Project details

Amending the understanding of deep-sea Gulper sharks of India

Key objective

To understand the diversity, abundance and distribution of gulper sharks of India and to formulate suitable conservation strategies

Why is this important

Gulper shark (Centrophorus spp.) population of India is declining drastically due to high fishing pressure in connection with the high demand for the squalene from the liver, especially for the manufacture of  pharmaceutical products and may directs into local extinction of these species. This project aims to fill the gap of knowledge on the diversity, abundance and distribution of gulper sharks in India, which can be used for formulation of conservation strategies.


Deep sea shark fishery of India comprise of species like  Ehinorhinus brucus, Centrophorus squamosus, C. atromarginatus, C. granulosus, C. moluccensis, Squalus mitsukurii, S.hemipinnis, Etmopterus pusillus, Zameus squamulosus etc. Centrophorus spp. (gulper sharks) was the predominant one and were commercially exploited for their high squalene in their livers. High demand for squalene in International market can be visible in the shifting of species composition of elasmobranch fishery in India from coastal sharks and rays in the 1980s to deep-sea sharks like Centrophorus spp., Echinorhinus brucus and Squalus spp. In addition, large numbers of juveniles are also caught in deep-sea shrimp trawl as bycatch. As a result of high fishing pressure over the last few years catch rate of these gulper sharks started declining in Indian waters. In addition, their biological traits like low fecundity, high longevity and late age at first maturity aids the rapid population depletion, also prevent quick recovery after such depletion. This alarms the need of immediate attention on gulper sharks of India. My work primarily focuses on the systematic data collection of data deficient gulper sharks, which can be used for the formulation of policies and mitigation measures.

Aims & objectives
  • Determine the catch composition, abundance, distribution and population characteristics of Centrophorus spp. of the Indian coast.
  • Molecular characterization of Centrophorus spp. of Indian waters to ratify the taxonomic issues.
  • Determine the by-catch species composition of oil shark targeted fishery in India and to quantify the discards