Scientific name..........Scyliorhinus Canicula
The smallspotted catshark has a long, slender body and relatively
short tail. Its head is slightly flattened and has large nasal flaps
that project back to the edge of the mouth. The catshark's body is
covered with small, usually dark, spots. Short broadly rounded
snout. Eyes large and horizontally elongate. Greatly expanded
anterior nasal flaps reach mouth and cover shallow nasoral grooves,
labial furrows on lower jaw only. Second dorsal much smaller than
the first. Some sharks have an additional eight to nine dark,
saddle-like shapes or blotches along their back. These markings are
highly variable among individuals and in different locations.
These sharks are considerable smaller in the Mediterranean, males
mature at 15.3 inches, females at 17.3 inches and can attain a
maximum length of 23.6 to 27.5. They are larger in the Atlantic and
the North Sea and can grow to a length of 39.3 inches.
There body is covered in numerous small dark spots and speckles on a
light background, scattered white spots sometimes present. The
dorsal color is sandy or slightly tan, with numerous small spots,
dark brown or nearly black in color and about the size of the eye
These sharks feed on a variety of small fishes, mollusks, and
crustaceans such as shrimp, crab, and lobster. Catsharks employ a
quick biting action that sucks water into the mouth along with prey
Like most catsharks it is active at night. During the day, it can be
found resting in open or sheltered areas on rocky reefs, sandy bays,
and muddy bottoms. Adults often found in single sex schools, young
and hatchlings in shallower water.
They are found in Northeast Atlantic: Norway and British Isles to
Mediterranean, Canary Islands, Azores, Morocco, Sahara Republic and
Mauritania to Senegal, Ivory Coast. They occur in continental
shelves and upper slopes, on sediment from near shore to depths of
Aggregations of females are found inshore during winter, where they
are joined by males in spring. In late summer, the adult population
migrates to deeper offshore waters to mate. The male bites the
female during courtship, then coils around her to transfer sperm.
This species is oviparous and females move into shallow water to
deposit their egg cases with tendrils for attaching among the rocky
reefs or algal patches, egg size varies with female size. After
about nine months, the young emerge, measuring approximately about
3.6 inches. Adult males join them before both sexes return to deeper
They are considered harmless.
Abundant. This species is commercially important in Europe for meat,
fishmeal, and oil. Taken in many fisheries, retained and discarded,
but high discard survival and some populations are stable or
increasing. Hardy aquarium species, breeds in captivity.