Chemical Properties

Deep sea sharks live about 900 m under the sea where sunlight and oxygen are almost negligible. Squalene is stored in the bodies of these sharks, which lack a swim bladder and therefore reduce their body density with fats and oils. Squalene, which is stored mainly in the shark’s liver, is lighter than water with a specific gravity of 0.855. The ability of this species to withstand high pressure at this depth and to survive is due to squalene. Squalene abstracts oxygen from the water present in the body and releases it to the cells for physiological activities and also to provide strength and stamina.

The ability of deep sea shark to withstand high pressure at this depth and to survive is due to squalene. Squalene abstracts oxygen from the Water present in the body and releases it to the cells for physiological activities andalso to provide strength and stamina.

The richest amount of squalene is in the shark, Centrophorus moluccensis (synonym. Centrophorus scalpratus) abundantly occurring in the Indian Ocean, particularly in the seas of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Gopakumar (1997) has reported that the liver oil of this species contained 70 per cent of squalene by weight. Extra virgin olive oil contains about 200-450 mg g-1 of squalene (Kelly, 1999).

Extensive methodology for purification, estimation and industrial applications of squalene extracted from C. scalpratus has been reported (Gopakumar & Thankappan, 1986; Thankappan & Gopakumar, 1991). Characteristics of squalene are given in Table 1.

Table 1. Chemical properties of squalene
Properties Value
Molecular weight 410.7
Melting point -75°C
Viscosity at 25°C 12 centipoises
Specific gravity 0.8 to 0.86
Boiling point at 25°C 285°C
Calorific value 19 400 BTU Pound-1
Flash point 19 400 BTU Pound-1

The richest amount of squalene is in the shark, abundantly occurring in the Indian Ocean, particularly in the seas of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. the liver oil of this species contained 70 percent of squalene by weight. Extra virgin olive oil contains about 200-450 mg g-1 of squalene

Squalene is present upto 85% by weight of liver in deep sea sharks. Among the plant sources, squalene is present in Amaranthus seed oil (6-8%), olive oil (up to 0.7% by weight), palm oil (0.1 to 2%, depending on species and method of extraction), rice bran oil and wheat germ (Liu et al., 1976; Deprez et al., 1990; Sun et al., 1997; Newmark, 1997).

Squalene extracted commercially from olive oil is marketed as vegetable squalene having purity of around 97.5% while squalene from shark liver oil can be processed up to 99.9% purity.

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