Shark endemic to New Zealand

The New Zealand catshark, or sometimes called Dawson’s catshark (Bythaelurus dawsoni), is a shark belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae in the order Carcharhiniformes. It is endemic to in the deep waters around New Zealand. It is a small, little-known shark with spots.


Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Bythaelurus 

Species: dawsoni


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles

Order– Carcharhiniformes

Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks




Average Size and Length: They are born around 11 cm/4.3 inches. Mature males have measured at 35 cm/1.1 feet. Mature females have measured at 37 cm/12 feet. The maximum recorded was 42 cm/1.4 feet.

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth is long and arched.

Head: The head is broad and flattened. There are elongated lobate anterior nasal flaps. The mouth reaches past the front end of the eyes. The eyes are large and cat-like in appearance.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The New Zealand catshark can be found in New Zealand on or near the bottom of the upper slopes of New Zealand and Auckland Islands (44°S – 53°S) between 1,217-1,378 feet. There are some accounts of them as deep as 3,937 feet. They are considered bathydemersal.

Diet: They feed on bottom crustaceans.

Aesthetic Identification: The New Zealand catshark is fairly short. It has a light brown or grey body, which is paler ventrally. There is a line of white spots on the sides of the small sharks with white fin tips. There are dark bands on the caudal fin. There are 2 dorsal fins. The first dorsal fin base is over the pelvic fin bases. The second dorsa fin is larger. The anal fin is short and angular.

Biology and Reproduction: They are oviparous.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

New Zealand Catshark Future and Conservation: They are of least concern but are commonly found in deep-water, but rarely recorded.

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