Does this pepper come with a salt?

The Peppered catshark (Galeus piperatus) is a common but little-known species of catshark belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. If is found in the northern Gulf of California in deep water. They may conduct seasonal migrations. They are small, slender and greyish in color with a pattern of small black dots.


Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Galeus 

Species: piperatus


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks




Average Size and Length: Hatchlings are less than 7 cm/3 inches long. Mature males measure between 28-29 cm/ 11 inches. Mature females have measured between 26-30 cm/10-11.8 inches. The maximum recorded is 30 cm/11.8 inches.

Current Rare Mythical Sightings: The peppered catshark was described by Stewart Springer and Mary Wagner in a 1966 issue of Los Angeles County Museum Contributions in Science; the specific epithet piperatus is derived from the Latin piper, meaning “pepper”. The type specimen is an adult female 30 cm/12 inches long, collected halfway between Tiburón Island and Isla Ángel de la Guarda. Some suggest that its anomalous geographical distribution is likely a product of vicariance stemming from the formation of the Isthmus of Panama (c. 3 Ma).

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth lining is usually dark. The large mouth is wide and curved, with well-developed furrows at the corners. The teeth have narrow central cusps flanked by up to three pairs of cusplets on either side.

Head: They have a slightly flattened head and a long, pointed snout. The anterior rims of the nostrils are expanded into triangular flaps of skin. The horizontally oval eyes are equipped with nictitating membranes, and lack obvious ridges underneath. Behind each eye is a minute spiracle.

Denticles: There is a distinct crest of enlarged dermal denticles along the upper margin of the tail. They are not on the lower margin. The dermal denticles are small and overlapping, each with a leaf-shaped crown bearing a median ridge and three marginal teeth.

Tail: The tail is elongated. The caudal peduncle is compressed from side to side and leads to a low caudal fin, which has a small lower lobe and a ventral notch near the tip of the upper lobe.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Peppered catshark can be found in the northeast Pacific in Mexico in the northern Gulf of California in deep water on the bottom between 902-4,350 feet, considered bathydemersal. Their limited range has been recorded with the southern boundary defined by the city of Guaymas in Sonora, and Isla Salsipuedes in Baja California (32°N – 26°N). They may conduct seasonal migrations, spending winter in deeper water. This migration is unusual in that it is opposite pattern observed in most other migratory fishes of the Gulf, and seems to be correlated with reproductive activity with spawning taking place in the summer (Mathews, C.P. (1975). “Some observations on the ecology of Galeus piperatus Springer and Wagner, a little-known shark endemic to the Northern Gulf of California“. Journal of Fish Biology. 7: 77–82).

Aesthetic Identification: The Peppered catshark is similar to the Roughtail catshark and the Antilles catshark. They are a small, slender, firm species. There are five pairs of gill slits. They may lack saddle markings. They may be patterned with variegated, white-edge dark saddle blotches. The caudal fin is white-edged. There are no black tips on the dorsal or caudal fins. They are slender with a grayish body with a fine covering of black dots, earning its name Peppered catshark. The first and second dorsal fins originate over the rear of the pelvic fins and the middle of the anal fin respectively. The dorsal fins are similar in shape and size, both having blunt apexes. The pectoral fins are large and broad, with rounded corners. The pelvic and anal fins are rather small and low, with angular corners. The anal fin base measures around 11–13% of the total length, comparable to the distance between the dorsal fins and greatly exceeding the distance between the pelvic and anal fins.

Biology and Reproduction: They are oviparous, with the reproductive period probably lasting from May to September. Newly mature females carry only 2–3 eggs, while the largest females may carry 10 or more eggs at a time; each egg is contained within a distinctively olive-green capsule around 3.5 cm/1.4 inches long.

The egg cases are consumed by the Pacific angelshark (Squatina california).

The young sharks hatch at a length of 7–8 cm/2.8–3.1 inches. Mathews (1984) reported females maturing at a length of 18 cm/7.1 inches, while Compagno (1984) reported males and females maturing at lengths of 28–29 cm/11 inches and 26–30 cm/10–12 inches.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: They may conduct seasonal migrations.  

Peppered Catshark Future and Conservation: They are currently of least concern. They live deep and are not of commercial interest.

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