The Largest Sixgill Shark Ever Caught in Washington was a Deep-Sea Leviathan

A close-up of a Sixgill Shark.
Greg Amptman/Shutterstock.com

Written by Nixza Gonzalez

Updated: October 25, 2023

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Did you know that Washington State is home to many different shark species? Some are even regularly caught. One of the most common sharks off the coast of Washington is the sixgill shark. This shark species is especially common in the Puget Sound. Can you guess the size of the largest one recorded and caught in the state? Follow along to discover the largest sixgill shark ever caught in Washington State. It was a true beast!

What is the Largest Sixgill Shark Ever Caught in Washington?

The largest sixgill shark ever caught in Washington State weighed an astonishing 220 pounds! Jim Haines caught this massive shark on Gedney Island on January 30, 1991. This record is also the largest shark species caught in the state, according to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Biggest Shark: Bluntnose Sixgill

Jim Haines caught the largest sixgill shark ever caught in Washington State on Gedney Island on January 30, 1991.

About Sixgill Shark

The sixgill shark, also known as the bluntnose sixgill shark, is a large shark species found in tropical and temperate waters worldwide. They are members of the Hexanchidae family. Currently, the sixgill shark is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Although common, they are vulnerable to over-fishing.

Appearance and Size

Bluntnose sixgill sharks have a unique appearance. They can grow up to 20 feet long. The average weight of a bluntnose sixgill shark is 800 to 1,100 pounds. They have a large body and a long tail. As their name suggests, they have blunt and wise snouts. They also have small florescent green-blue eyes. Bluntnose sixgill sharks have six rows of sharp teeth on their lower jaw and smaller teeth on their upper jaw. Their coloration varies. Some bluntnose sixgill sharks are grey, tan, or brown-black.

A very rare shot of a Sixgill shark pup.

Bluntnose sixgill sharks can reach up to 20 feet long and weigh 1,300 pounds.

Distribution and Habitat

You can find bluntnose sixgill sharks throughout the world and Washington State. According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, bluntnose sixgill sharks live from the Aleutian Islands, Alaska to Baja California, Mexico in the Eastern Pacific. Typically, these sharks dive deep up to 6,152 feet. Although they spend most of their lives in the deep sea, they sometimes wander to shallow waters looking for food. 

Diet

So, what do these sharks typically eat? Sixgill sharks are nocturnal feeders. They consume large bony and cartilaginous fishes. Common animals in their diet include dolphins, other sharks, skates, squids, crabs, and rays.

Predators

Because of their size, sixgill sharks have few to no natural predators. They may be hunted by great white sharks and killer whales. Young bluntnose sixgill sharks are more vulnerable than adults. Sometimes, other sharks, dolphins, and Stellar’s sea lions prey on young sixgill sharks.

Other Sharks in Washington

Although sixgill sharks are becoming more common in Washington State, they are still rare to see. These sharks mainly live in the deep sea. Instead, other shark species are more common. Along the coast of Washington State, there are at least 14 shark species. Listed below are a few you can keep your eye out for!

Great White Shark

The first shark on our list is the most well-known shark in the world, the great white shark. It’s also very misunderstood and has been painted as a vicious villain/animal for decades in films and series. Although most shark attacks are from great whites, attacks are still rare. In Washington State, great whites are occasional visitors. They rarely venture into Washington’s Puget Sound, but they are still there!

A shot of the beautiful wild great white shark underwater

Great white sharks are occasional visitors to Washington State.

Common Thresher

Another shark you may find off the coast of Washington State is the common thresher, known for its very long tail. Common thresher sharks live and swim along the coast when migrating from Washington/Oregon down to Baja Peninsula, Mexico. These sharks are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. They have long, slender, torpedo-shaped bodies and can be as long as 19 feet.

Longest Tail: The Common Thresher Shark

The longest recorded common thresher shark was 19 feet long.

Spiny Dogfish

The most common shark species in Washington State is the Pacific spiny dogfish, also known as the mud shark. Although very widespread, it’s listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Spiny dogfish are excellent hunters and have a wide diet of fish, squid, shrimp, crab, and jellyfish. They are also bottom-dwellers, often found at depths of around 160 to 400 pounds.

Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias) at the south coast of Norway

Spiny dogfish are bottom-dwelling sharks.

Blacktip Shark

You can also find blacktip sharks in Washington State. Blacktip sharks are members of the family Carcharhinidae. They live in coastal tropical and subtropical waters around the world. Sadly, like other shark species on this list, it’s listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Blacktip sharks are long, robust sharks, with a maximum length of 9.2 feet.

Blacktip ocean sharks

Blacktip sharks are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

Blue Shark

The last shark species on our list is the blue shark. This shark species is a unique, long, and slender fish. Although widespread, it’s listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Blue sharks are highly migratory fish that swim far distances, like from New England to South America. They are members of the Carcharhinidae family and on average are about 10 feet long.

Blue shark at the Azores

On average, blue sharks are about 10 feet long.


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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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