Kitefin shark (Dalatias licha)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



Dalatias licha is a moderately small, blunt-snouted shark. It may reach up to 180 cm in length. It has thick lips, which are covered in papillae. As a member of the dogfish family, it has a long and elongated body with a backward-pointing tail. It has two dorsal fins of nearly equal size. The first dorsal fin originates behind the pectoral rear tips and its base is closer to the pectoral base than the pelvic fins. It has no anal fin.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found off the south, west and north Irish coasts as well as off western and northern Scotland.

Global distribution



Dalatias licha is a bathydemersal species that inhabits outer continental shelves down to 1800 m. It can often be pelagic found singularly or in small schools.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Moderately small, blunt-snouted shark up to 180 cm in length.
  • Dark grey-brown in colour.
  • Thick lips covered in papillae.
  • Two equal sized dorsal fins.
  • Caudal fin with ventral lobe not expanded.
  • The trailing edges of the fins are translucent.

Additional information

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  1. 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. Part 1 - Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsies, 125, 1-249

  2. Froese, R. & Pauly, D., 2007. Fishbase. A global information system on fishes. [On-line], 2008-02-18

  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. Vas, P., 1995. A field guide to the sharks of British coastal waters. FSC Publications, Shrewsbury, UK.


  1. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  2. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-06-12


This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Dalatias licha Kitefin shark. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 12-06-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 25/03/2008