orange spotted catshark

A shark you will have a hard time taking your eyes off of

The Orange Spotted catshark or sometimes called the Rusty catshark (Asymbolus rubiginosus), is a shark, belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. It is found in eastern Australia from southern Queensland to Tasmania between 82-1,772 feet. Like its name, it is a beautifully colored and patterned shark.


Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Asymbolus 

Species: rubiginosus


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks




Average Size and Length: Adult males have been measured at 37 cm/1.2 feet. The maximum recorded is greater than 53 cm/1.7 feet.

Current Rare Mythical Sightings: Type specimen was found south of Gabo Island, Victoria (37°46.7´S, 149°55.2´E).

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth is broad. The width is 2.3-3.4 times its height. The labial furrows are short and are about equal in length. The lower extending between 30-39% of the distance to the jaw symphasis. The teeth are similar in both jaws, small, with a large central cusp and one or two smaller cusplets on each side.

Head: The head is moderately flattened and the snout is short with a rounded tip. The length to the mouth is about 4-6% of the total length. The nostrils are close to the mouth but not connected to it by a groove. The broad outer nasal flap is covering the posterior nasal aperture, but doesn’t reach the lips. The distance between the inner corners of the nostrils is less than 2% of the total length. The eyes are large and oval, with small spiracles.

Denticles: The dermal denticles are fine and slightly rough to touch.

Tail: The caudal fin is short and broad and is heterocercal. It is broadest anteriorly, with a subterminal notch. The width is midway between the lower angle and the notch is between 2.0-2.3 times the length from angle to notch. The lower lobe is shaped into a peak at an angle. The posteroventral margin usually concave. The caudal peduncle is without keels or precaudal pits.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Orange Spotted catshark can be found in eastern Australia from southern Queensland to Tasmania. They can be found on the bottom over the continental shelf and upper slope between 82-1,772 feet. They are considered pelagic.

Diet: More than likely, its diet consists largely of cephalopods and crustaceans.

Aesthetic Identification: The Orange Spotted catshark has a somewhat elongated body, and is pale brown with many dark brown spots with orange-brown borders on the back and sides. There are no spots on the pale ventral side. There are obscure dark saddles separated by clusters of spots along the spine. There is an indistinct brownish blotch and ridge below the eye. There is usually a dark mark on the leading and trailing edges of the dorsal fin. The flank spots are larger but less clear. The last gill slit is above the pectoral fin. The dorsal fins are behind the pelvic fins. The outer corner of the dorsal fins is angular. The height of the first dorsal fin is between 80-94% length of its base. The second dorsal fin origin is over the posterior third of the anal-fin base. The hind margin of the second is slightly concave near the base with small but detectable lobe on inner corner. The interdorsal space is between 2.4-2.9 times the length of the first dorsal fin base. The pectoral fins are broad, with an angular outer corner. The hind margin is straight to slightly concave. The inner margins of the pelvic fins are fused into an apron over the claspers of adult males. The claspers of adult males extend less than half their length past tips of pelvic fins. There is an anal fin. The vertical height of the anal fin is between 3.0-5.1% of the total length. Its base is between 1.9-2.3 times base of first dorsal fin. The distance between the bases of the anal and caudal fins is between 9-12% of the total length.

Biology and Reproduction: They are oviparous, one egg case per uterus and are thought to lay eggs year-round. Vertebrae count is 86 precaudal, with a total of between 128-142. It is suggested that females mature at around 1.3 feet, and males mature at around 1.2 feet.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

Orange Spotted Catshark Future and Conservation: They are currently of least concern. They are discarded as bycatch in some trawl fisheries.

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