A once confused species in the Caribbean

The Longfin Sawtail catshark (Galeus cadenati) is a rare, little-known species of catshark belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. The Longfin Sawtail catshark was once thought to be a subspecies of the Roughtail catshark (G. arae) along with the Antilles catshark (G. antillensis), but has clear and noticeable differences. It inhabits deep water off the Caribbean coasts of Panama and Colombia.


Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Galeus 

Species: cadenati


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks




Average Size and Length: The maximum recorded length is 35 cm/1.1 feet. The largest known immature male was recorded at 29 cm/11.4 inches. Females mature between 29-34 cm/11.4 inches-1.1 feet.

Current Rare Mythical Sightings: Stewart Springer described the Longfin Sawtail catshark in a 1966 issue of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Fishery Bulletin, based on a 31 cm/12-inch-long female collected off Panama on May 30, 1962. He named the species after French zoologist Jean Cadenat, who described the similar African Sawtail catshark (G. polli). Springer and other authors would subsequently come to regard G. cadenati as a subspecies of the Roughtail catshark (G. arae). In 1998 and 2000, Hera Konstantinou and colleagues published revisions of the G. arae species complex in which they elevated G. a. cadenati back to the rank of full species, along with the other subspecies G. a. antillensis.

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth is wide and curved, with fairly long furrows around the corners. Inside of the mouth is dark. The teeth have a long central cusp flanked on either side by one or two pairs of lateral cusplets. The upper jaw of the type specimen contained 62 tooth rows.

Head: It has a broad head and a moderately long, pointed snout. The large eyes are horizontally oval, equipped with nictitating membranes, and lack prominent ridges underneath. A small spiracle is located behind each eye. The nostrils are large and partially covered by anterior triangular flaps of skin.

Denticles: It has a prominent crest of enlarged dermal denticles along the dorsal edge of its caudal fin. The body is covered by small, overlapping dermal denticles, each with a leaf-shaped crown with a horizontal ridge and three marginal teeth.

Tail: The caudal fin has a small, rounded lower lobe and a ventral notch near the tip of the upper lobe.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Longfin Sawtail catshark can be found in the Caribbean off of Panama and Colombia on the upper continental slopes between 1,440-1,798 feet. Their full extent of their range may still be unknown. They do not occur with their closely related species. They are considered bathydemersal.

Aesthetic Identification: The Longfin Sawtail catshark is similar to the Roughtail catshark and the Antilles catshark. It has a noticeably lower, longer anal fin than both of these species. It measures between 13–16% of the total length. The Longfin Sawtail catshark is slim-bodied, and has a marbled dorsal color pattern. The ventral side is uniform and light. The five pairs of gill slits are small, with the fourth and fifth pairs located over the pectoral fin bases. The two dorsal fins are similar in size and shape, with blunt apexes. The first dorsal fin originates over the midpoint of the pelvic fin bases, while the second originates over the midpoint of the anal fin base. The pectoral fins are large and broad, with rounded corners. The pelvic and anal fins are low and angular in shape.

Biology and Reproduction: They are oviparous. A single egg matures within each oviduct of the female at a time. The egg is enclosed within a flask-shaped egg case that is around 4.9–5.1 cm/ 1.9–2.0 inches long, 1.2–1.4 cm/0.47–0.55 inches across the top, and 1.6 cm/ 0.63 inches across the bottom. There are coiled tendrils at the upper two corners.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

Longfin Sawtail Catshark Future and Conservation: There is not enough data to evaluate and they are quite rare. It may be caught incidentally in bottom trawls meant for shrimp, though no specific information is available. Since its range is small, we should watch this species carefully.

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