FRECKLED cATSHARK

This shark has beautiful varying spots all over its body.

The Freckled catshark (Scyliorhinus haeckelii) is a catshark belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. It is found on the continental shelf and upper slope from the western Atlantic from western Venezuela to Uruguay. There are some noticeable differences between sexes.

Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Scyliorhinus 

Species: haeckelii

Taxonomy:

Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles

OrderCarcharhiniformes

Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks

GenusScyliorhinus

Specieshaeckelii

Status: IUCN Red List DATA DEFICIENT

Average Size and Length: Each egg case measures 6-7×2.3 cm. Hatchlings measure 10-13 cm/3.9-5.2 inches. Adult males measure 35-50 cm/1.1-1.6 feet, and females are at least 40 cm/1.3 feet. The maximum recorded is 50 cm/1.6 feet.

Teeth and Jaw: Adult males have larger teeth and longer mouths than females. The teeth are jagged and burr-like with 5 cusps, with the central cusp being the longest. The cusps are pointed and straight.

Head: The neurocranium has a narrow basal plate (vs. a broad plate in some other species). The snout is rounded and short, with a preoral length of 4.5% of the total length. The head is short and depressed, with a length of between 17.5-19.2% of the total length. There is a conspicuous dark bar under the cat-like eyes. The small anterior nasal flaps do not reach the mouth. There are no nasoral grooves.

Denticles: Adult males have larger lateral denticles than the females.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Freckled catshark can be found in the western Atlantic from Venezuela to Suriname, Brazil and Uruguay (11° N and 32° S). They are found on the continental shelf and upper slope on or near the seabed between 121-1,440 feet. They are on deep reef habitats mostly below 820 feet. Off of southern Brazil they are associated with deeper water gorgonians, hard corals, tube sponges, crinoids and brittle stars. Northern-most specimens more than likely may be from another species. They are considered demersal.

Diet: Stomach contents include squid beaks and skeletal elements of bony fishes.

Aesthetic Identification: The Freckled catshark is small and slender with seven or eight dusky saddles (these saddles are sometimes faint). There are very small black spots scattered over the back and outlining saddles. Sometimes the spots are sickle-shaped or lunate and with clear centers on the back and sides, arranged in approximate bilateral symmetry, and sometimes present in inter-saddle regions (vs. spots spiracle-sized, randomly distributed, not sickle-shaped or lunate in other species). There are no light spots. The second dorsal fin is much smaller than the first. The first dorsal fins are located behind the pelvic insertions and the second are located anterior to anal insertion. The first dorsal fin is triangular or squared tipped (vs. never squared tipped some other species. The interdorsal space is 1.2-2 times the dorsal-caudal space. The claspers have ventral terminal cartilage 2 slender and positioned above the ventral terminal cartilage, with a length of 1.8 times, in the ventral terminal cartilage. The ventral terminal cartilage is without a prominent groove posteriorly, or with shallow and poorly developed grooves.

Biology and Reproduction: They are oviparous. They lay pairs of egg cases on corals and sea fans; using the tendrils to secure them. The egg-capsules have been observed to be light amber to yellowish color, without longitudinal grooves.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

Freckled Catshark Future and Conservation: There is currently not enough data to evaluate. Overall, there is no interest in the Freckled catshark by commercial fisheries. It is taken as bycatch in bottom trawl and long-line fisheries. However, since early 2000s, it has attracted commercial interest in some areas of southern Brazil.

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