Smile and say cheese!

The East African Spotted Izak or Grinning Izak (Holohalaelurus grennian) is a catshark belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. It is a more recently described shark (Human, 2006) found in an extremely spotty and limited range near Kenya in the western Indian Ocean. As its name states, it is identifiable by its characteristic spots on a yellow-brown background, and its mouth appearing to grin. This shark, along with another Izak have been recently described and classified as its own species, instead of a sub-species.


Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Holohalaelurus 

Species: grennian


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks




Average Size and Length: Mature males have measured at 27 cm/10.6 inches. The length of mature females is currently unknown. The maximum recorded length is thought to be greater than 27 cm/10.6 inches.

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth is long and wide and gives the shark the appearance that it is grinning.

Head: The head is broad. The snout is short.

Denticles: There are rough enlarged dermal denticles on the middle of the back.

Tail: The tail is long and slender.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The East African Spotted Izak or Grinning Izak can be found in the western Indian Ocean around Kenya, Tanzania and possibly Somalia. They can be found on the upper continental slope between 781-984 feet.  

Aesthetic Identification: The East African Spotted Izak or Grinning Izak has tiny scattered black dots under the head. It is yellow-brown dorsally, and whiteish ventrally. The upper surface is covered with small close-spaced, dark brown spots. There are no dark reticulations, blotches, horizontal stripes or tear marks. There are a few white spots that are large and conspicuous above the pectoral fin insertions. There is a highlighted narrow dark bar on the webs of the dorsal fins. The dorsal fins are short and angular.

Biology and Reproduction: Unknown but possibly oviparous.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

East African Spotted Izak or Grinnng Izak Future and Conservation: There is not enough data to evaluate. There range is extremely limited.

East African Spotted Izak or Grinnng Izak Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.