Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks
Common Name– Ground Sharks
Common Name– Catsharks
Status: IUCN Red List NOT EVALUATED
Average Size and Length: Males have been measured between 19-47 cm/7.5 inches-1.5 feet and females between 17.8-48.4 cm/7 inches-1.6 feet. The maximum recorded length is 49 cm/1.6 feet.
Average Weight: According to Jacobsen & Bennett (2007), the average mass of adult males was 92.5% of the adult females, with considerable overlap between large males and small females. The mass of adult males is between 182.5-286.0 g (n=5, mean = 203.8, sd = 43.6), and adult females is between 150-386.3 g (n=4, mean = 220.3, sd =111.2). There was a considerable overlap in the mass of juveniles and adults for both males and females. In other words, they have been measured to weigh about a pound.
Head: They have a relatively long snout. The preoral length is between 4.7-5.1% of the total length. The head length is between 19.3-19.9% of the total length.
Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Eastern Banded catshark can be found in the western Pacific from Gladstone in Central East Queensland, Australia to the southern reaches of Papua New Guinea (9°S – 22°S, 143°E – 150°E). They are considered tropical benthopelagic, found at a depth range of between 36-243 feet.
Specimens have been collected from a variety of environmental substrates ranging from sandy to course rubble at depths of capture from 35 to 243 feet, with most records shallower than 164 feet.
Diet: They feed mainly on benthic invertebrates and small teleost species. Stomach content of 4 specimens included penaeid prawns, brachyuran crabs, cephalopods and teleost species from the families Gobiidae and Platycephalidae.
Aesthetic Identification: The color pattern of the eastern Banded catshark is dominated by broad brownish saddles and transverse bands on a tan to light brown background. There are prominent dark brown to black spots and white spots on dorsal and lateral surfaces. There are dark brown to black spots concentrated predominantly on saddle margins and as irregular transverse lines in inter-saddle spaces, which are decreasing in number post second dorsal fin. There are significant numbers of small to medium sized white spots that are found along the entire length of the shark. The white spots are increasing in concentration towards the posterior end.
The precaudal length is between 79.7-82.6% of the total length. They have a short interdorsal space of between 12.2-13.9% of the total length. The anal fin height is between 2.5-3.0% of the total length. They have a comparatively long anal fin length of between 9.7-10.8 % of the total length. The anal fin base-length is between 8.2-9.1% of the total length.
Reproductive System: The adult male claspers are elongated with a broad base, tapering moderately from the base to the tip. The adult male claspers have an outer length of between 7.2-9.0% of the total length. The clasper base width is between 20.2-22.5% of the clasper outer length. The clasper glans are covering more than half of the length of the entire clasper. There is an enlarged tab on cover of the rhipidion, which is moderately large, concealed predominantly by large cover of the rhipidion and exorhipidion. The pseudosiphon is over half the length of the cover of the rhipidion. There is a large pseudopera with a narrow clasper tip and of moderate width that is bluntly pointed.
Comparisons: They have posteroventally sloping dorsal fins, a lower precaudal vertebrae count and smaller adult size when compared to the Bali catshark, the Coral catshark, and the Australian Marbled catshark. The Eastern Banded catshark differs from the Banded Sand catshark, but it does have the most morphological similarities, in having a larger anal fin, lateral denticles with prominent shallow depressions, claspers of adult males with a cover rhipidion without an obvious notch and with prominent white spots and fewer, smaller black spots.
Biology and Reproduction: Total vertebral count is between 147-153 (N=16). The precaudal counts is between 95–99 (n=16).
More than likely, they are oviparous, although no egg cases from specimens have been recorded. The smallest sexually mature female 35.4 cm/1.2 feet, but the size at first maturity could be possibly lower. The smallest sexually mature male recorded was 34.5 cm/1.1 feet.
Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.
Eastern Banded Catshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.