A catshark here around Florida

The Antilles catshark (Galeus antillensis) is a common but little-known species of catshark, belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. It is found in the west Atlantic and Caribbean off Florida and the west Indies from Hispaniola to Martinique on or near the bottom in deep water. It was once regarded as a subspecies of the similar Roughtail catshark (G. arae), along with the Longfin Sawtail catshark (G. cadenati).


Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Galeus 

Species: antillensis


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks




Average Size and Length: Mature sharks have been measured between 33-46 cm/1.1-1.5 feet and the maximum recorded has been 1.5 feet. The Antilles catshark is larger than the Roughtail catshark.

Current Rare Mythical Sightings: Stewart Springer first described the Antilles catshark as an island subspecies of G. arae in a 1979 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Technical Report. The type specimen was collected off Saint Kitts in the Leeward Islands. In 1998 and 2000, Hera Konstantinou and colleagues published revisions of the G. arae species complex, wherein they elevated the subspecies G. a. antillensis and G. a. cadenati to full species, and described what had been considered the striped color morph of G. a. antillensis as a new species, G. springeri.

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth lining is dark. The mouth is short, wide, and curved, and has long furrows at the corners. The teeth number around 56 upper and 52 lower rows. Each tooth has a long central cusp flanked by one or two smaller cusplets on either side.

Head: The head is relatively flattened with a long, pointed snout. The horizontally oval eyes are equipped with rudimentary nictitating membranes, and are followed by tiny spiracles. The nostrils are divided by triangular flaps of skin on their anterior rims.

Denticles: There is a distinct saw-tooth crest of enlarged dermal denticles along the upper margin of the tail. The body is covered by tiny, overlapping dermal denticles. Each denticle has a leaf-shaped crown with a horizontal ridge and three marginal teeth.

Tail: The tail is elongated. The caudal fin has a small lower lobe and a ventral notch near the tip of the upper lobe.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Antilles catshark can be found in the west Atlantic in the Caribbean Sea, the Straits of Florida and Caribbean from Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Leeward Islands to Martinique. They are deep-water sharks. They are found on the upper insular slopes on or near the bottom between 961-2,159 feet. They are considered bathydemersal.

Diet: They feed mainly on deep-water shrimp.

Aesthetic Identification: The Antilles catshark has a striking pattern of variegated dark brown saddle blotches (typically less than 11) and dark bands on the tail. The saddles may be clearly outlined or obscure. There are usually dark markings on the flanks, no black marks on the dorsal fin tips. There are no black marks on the dorsal fin tips. The ventral side is whiteish. The caudal fin tip may have a dusky base and a light web. It is slender in shape. The apexes of two dorsal fins are blunt, with the first originating behind the midpoint of the pelvic fin bases. The second dorsal fin is almost as large as the first, and originates behind the midpoint of the anal fin base. The pectoral fins are rather large and broad, with rounded corners. The pelvic and anal fins are low and angular. The anal fin base measures roughly 8–14% of the total length, about comparable to the space between the dorsal fins.

Biology and Reproduction: The Antilles catshark has more precaudal vertebrae than the Roughtail catshark. They are possibly oviparous. Adult females have a single functional ovary, on the right, and two functional oviducts. A single egg matures inside each oviduct at a time. The egg is contained within a flask-shaped capsule or egg case measuring around 4.9–5.1 cm/1.9–2.0 inches long, 1.2–1.4 cm/0.47–0.55 inches across the top, and 1.6 cm/0.63 inches across the bottom. There are coiled tendrils at the upper two corners.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: The Antilles catshark may school in large numbers.

Antilles Catshark Future and Conservation: There is not enough data to evaluate. They are quite common where they occur.

Antilles Catshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.