You would think this shark might be a snake

The Boa catshark (Scyliorhinus boa) is a catshark belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. It is found on the continental shelves and insular slopes of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Like its name, its curious pattern similar to a boa constrictor snake is unmistakable.


Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Scyliorhinus 

Species: boa


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks




Average Size and Length: The longest recorded was an adult male at 54 cm/1.8 feet long.

Teeth and Jaw: The labial furrows are only on the lower jaw. The teeth are typically five-cusped and small, and burr-like with a sharp pointed central cusp that is a bit larger than the surrounding two to four cuspslets.

Head: The small anterior nasal flaps do not reach the mouth. There are no nasoral grooves.

Denticles: The skin of the Boa catshark is only slightly rough and the placoid scales are small.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Boa catshark can be found in the northwest Atlantic in the Caribbean insular slopes off Barbados, Hispaniola, the Leeward Islands, the Windward Islands, Jamaica, the continental slope off Nicaragua, Honduras, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama and Surinam (20° N and 9° N). It is found on the continental and insular slopes on or near the bottom between 751-2,218 feet. They are considered bathydemersal.

Aesthetic Identification: The Boa catshark is small, slender, deep bodied, and brownish-yellowish or greyish with inconspicuous saddles and flank markings outlined by many small black spots, sometimes in reticulating rows or broken black lines; like the pattern od a boa constrictor snake. There are sometimes a few white spots. There are few or no spots inside the saddles. The second dorsal fin is much smaller than the first dorsal fin. The first dorsal origin is just behind the rear end of the pelvic fin. There is a wide gap between the first dorsal fin and the second dorsal fin, which is much smaller and has its origin above the posterior part of the pelvic fin.

Biology and Reproduction: Presumably oviparous.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

Boa Catshark Future and Conservation: They are of least concern. It is a deep-water species that typically lives below the depths of commercial trawling.

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