This beautiful shark looks like a jaguar
The Galapagos catshark, (Bythaelurus giddingsi) is a species of shark belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. They can be found in the Galápagos Islands. It is a more recently described species (2012, but first discovered in 1995). It has a beautiful light and dark variegated pattern.
Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks
Common Name– Ground Sharks
Common Name– Catsharks
Species– giddingsi (previously sp. B)
Status: IUCN Red List NOT EVALUATED
Average Size and Length: Mature males measure at 45 cm/1.5 feet. The maximum recorded is greater than 1.5 feet in length.
Current Rare Mythical Sightings: The Galapagos catshark was first discovered in 1995 on an expedition to the Galápagos Islands led by John McCosker from the California Academy of Sciences. The purpose of the expedition was to film a documentary about the Galápagos Islands for the Discovery Channel, which aired in 1996. Douglas Long was the first to notice the new shark species while he was processing the fish samples that were collected during the expedition. Though not yet formally described, the name Galápagos catshark was used in non-scientific shark literature for several years prior to the published description. The Galapagos catshark was formally described as a new species in an article by McCosker, Long and Carole Baldwin which was published in Zootaxa in March 2012 “New Species of Deep-Sea Catshark Described from the Galapagos”. California Academy of Sciences. March 7, 2012.
You might recognize the appearance of this shark from a movie! One of the proposed common names of this species was Jaguar catshark, which is in reference to the spotted pattern characteristic, as well as its resemblance to the mythical Jaguar shark in the Wes Anderson movie The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
Teeth and Jaw: The mouth is long and arched.
Head: The head is short, between 21% and 24% of the shark’s total length. The snout is short, flattened and rounded. The preoral length is between 4.7-6.8% of the total length. The mouth reaches past the front end of the eyes. The eyes are cat-like.
Tail: The tail is short, narrow and asymmetrical.
Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Galapagos catshark can be found in the eastern Pacific in the Galapagos Islands on the insular slopes on the bottom between 1,312-1,969 feet. They have been found around San Cristóbal Island, Darwin Island, Marchena Island and Fernandina Island over flat sandy or muddy bottoms or along slopes to 45°. They have also been found in the vicinity of lava boulders. They prefer tropical climates and are considered bathypelagic.
Diet: They more than likely eat small fish and invertebrates.
Aesthetic Identification: The Galapagos catshark is small. It has a variegated pattern of striking large white spots and blotches on a grey or chocolate brown background; the body, flanks, caudal and median fins are overlain with pale spots about equal in size to eye, becoming smaller below lateral midline, and showing a bilaterally asymmetrical pattern. They are paler on the ventral side from the snout to the anus. There is a slight hump on the back well before the first dorsal fin. Both dorsal fins are of medium size. They are high and rounded. The first dorsal fin base is over the pelvic fin bases and the anal fin is low and broad, and about as large as the second dorsal fin. The length of the anal-fin base about equal to the length of interdorsal space. The precaudal length is between 73-80% of the total length.
The Galapagos catshark differs from its congeners in its coloration, the length of its anal-fin base, and in other morphological characteristics.
Biology and Reproduction: Unknown, but possibly oviparous. There are between 81-85 (mean = 82.6) precaudal vertebrae.
Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.
Galapagos Catshark Future and Conservation: They are not evaluated, however with such a restricted range, there population is probably quite limited and could always be at risk.
Galapagos Catshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.