Rhinochimaera pacifica


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Rhinochimaera pacifica
Species Authority: (Mitsukuri, 1895)
Common Name(s):
English Pacific Spookfish, Knifenose Chimaera
Spanish Tucán
Taxonomic Notes: Colour variation has been noted in this species with specimens from the northwest Pacific (Japan) noticeably darker in overall colour than those from the southwest Pacific (New Zealand) (Didier and Nakaya 1999). The distinction between R. atlantica and R. pacifica is problematic and solely based on the number of caudal tubercles, a highly variable and often overlapping characteristic (tends to be greater in R. atlantica). Resolution on the distinction of these two species will require examination of larger series of specimens and potentially molecular data (Compagno et al. 1990).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2006
Date Assessed: 2006-01-31
Assessor(s): Dagit, D.D.
Reviewer(s): Kyne, P.M., Fowler, S.L. & Compagno, L.J.V. (Shark Red List Authority)
In the western Pacific this species is known from the Japanese Archipelago and the East China Sea, off Southern Australia and New Zealand and in the eastern Pacific it is known from off Peru. Although capture records indicate a sporadic distribution, R. pacifica may in fact be more widely distributed throughout the Pacific. Habitat appears to be primarily deepwater troughs and plateaus at depths of 191 to 1,290 m, although most commonly found below 700 m. Nothing is known of population structure or reproduction although it is likely this species shares similar life history traits with R. atlantica. Not known to be commercially fished or utilized, but is known to be captured in deepwater research trawls and possibly as bycatch in deepwater commercial trawl fisheries but bycatch data are not available. Potentially threatened by future increased deepwater trawling efforts in the Pacific. However, ay present, given its probable wide geographical distribution in the Pacific and wide bathymetrical range, there are no immediate threats to the species and no indication that it is rare. It also appears to be mostly beyond the range of most deepwater fisheries at present and is thus assessed as Least Concern. Collection of basic data on size, sex and depth from all incidental captures of this species is recommended in an effort to obtain minimal information on population structure size and life history. Furthermore, the monitoring of any bycatch of the species is required.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Most commonly known from the north and southwestern Pacific, primarily from the Japanese Archipelago and the East China Sea, and off southern New Zealand and Southern Australia (Inada and Garrick 1979, Last and Stevens 1994, Didier and Nakaya 1999). Reported only from Peru in the eastern Pacific but may occur more widely in deepwater troughs and plateaus throughout the entire Pacific Ocean.
Australia (New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia); China; Japan; New Zealand; Peru; Taiwan, Province of China
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southeast; Pacific – southwest
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Nothing is known of population structure, but capture records consist only of adults or subadult juveniles indicating possible aggregation of adults and juveniles in different habitats.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Habitat appears to be primarily deepwater troughs and plateaus at depths of 191 to 1,290 m, although most commonly found below 700 m. Off southern Australia reported from 760 to 1,290 m (Last and Stevens 1994). Maximum size is about 130 cm TL (62 cm BDL) with females generally larger than males. It appears that sexual maturity in males and females is reached at ~50 cm BDL. Oviparous, but nothing is known of reproductive biology. Probably shares similar life history traits with R. atlantica and diet may consist of a variety of invertebrates and fish.

Life history parameters
Age at maturity (years): Unknown.
Size at maturity (body length): ~50 cm BDL (male and female).
Longevity (years): Unknown.
Maximum size (total/body length): 130 cm TL; 62 cm BDL.
Size at birth (cm): Unknown.
Average reproductive age (years): Unknown.
Gestation time (months): Unknown.
Reproductive periodicity: Unknown.
Average annual fecundity or litter size: Unknown.
Annual rate of population increase: Unknown.
Natural mortality: Unknown.
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Not known to be commercially targeted. Occasionally captured in deepwater surveys and may also be caught as bycatch in deepwater commercial trawls but bycatch data are unavailable. Off southern Australia mostly recorded deeper than the depth range of most fisheries. As such, a study of the bycatch of the South Tasman Rise Trawl Fishery (STRF) did not record this species in 545 tows between November 1998 and September 2000 (Anderson and Clark 2003). The STRF targets orange roughy and other deepwater teleost species south of Tasmania as a straddling stock between Australia and New Zealand and operates in the known area of occurrence of R. pacifica.

Potential threat to habitat and populations due to increased deepwater trawling throughout the species range.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: No management or conservation measures are known to be in place. It is recommended that at least minimal data on size, sex, and distribution be collected on all incidental catches of this species in an effort to obtain baseline population and life history information. Monitoring of any bycatch is also required.

The development and implementation of management plans (national and/or regional e.g., under the FAO International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks: IPOA-Sharks) are required to facilitate the conservation and sustainable management of all chondrichthyan species in the region. See Anon. (2004) for an update of progress made by nations in the range of R. pacifica.

Citation: Dagit, D.D. 2006. Rhinochimaera pacifica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 03 September 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided