Little-known catshark off Japan

The Japanese catshark (Apristurus japonicus) is a shark belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae, found in the northwest Pacific off Japan. The abdomen of the Japanese catshark is extremely long. The snout is quite short in comparison to other members of its genus.


Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Apristurus 

Species: japonicus


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks




Average Size and Length: Adult females are at least 65 cm/2.1 feet. Adult males have been recorded between 65-71 cm/2.1-2.3 feet. The maximum recorded has been 71 cm/2.3 feet.

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth is quite large. The labial furrows are long. The uppers reach the upper symphysis, but the lowers are shorter.

Head: The snout is quite short in comparison to other members of its genus. The head is broad and flattened with large nostrils. The mouth extends slightly in front of the eyes. The eyes are cat-like in appearance.

Tail: The caudal fin is elongated.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Japanese catshark can be found in the northwest Pacific off Japan in Okinawa Trough and Honshu. They may be possibly found in the east China Sea but this is not confirmed. They are found on the slope near the bottom between 2,690-3,002 feet. They are considered bathydemersal.

Aesthetic Identification: The Japanese catshark is blackish-brown in color. They have an extremely long abdomen. The pectoral and pelvic fins are separated widely. The gill slits are narrower than the adult eye length. The dorsal fins are equal in size. The origin of the first dorsal fin is over the pelvic fin midbases. The anal fin is large and moderately elongated. It is separated from the tail by a small notch.

Biology and Reproduction: They are oviparous.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown, but they may be nocturnal.

Japanese Catshark Future and Conservation: They are not evaluated. They are reported as abundant but within a very limited range.

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