One catshark with long claspers

The Shortbelly catshark (Apristurus breviventralis) is a catshark belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. It is found in the Gulf of Aden in the Indian Ocean. They closely resemble the Hoary catshark, but there are several distinguishable characteristics.


Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Apristurus 

Species: breviventralis


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks




Average Size and Length: The maximum length of a male has been 48.5 cm/1.6 feet.

Current Rare Mythical Sightings: HOLOTYPE AND PARATYPE INFORMATION: The maximum size of females is unknown. Smallest paratype (33.7 cm TL) with short and soft claspers of 2.5% of the total length, which was ranked as immature (maturity stage 1). The holotype and other paratypes measured between 43.2-47.7 cm with long, fully developed claspers (5.8-8.1% of the total length), ranked as mature (maturity stage 3).

Teeth and Jaw: The upper labial furrows are distinctly longer than lower labial furrows.

Head: The Shortbelly catshark does resemble the Hoary catshark. The Shortbelly catshark has a greater nostril length than internarial width. The snout is moderately long, with a pointed tip. The pre-outer nostril length is slightly greater than the internarial width, which is about 0.6-0.8 times the interorbital width.

Denticles: The dermal denticles are small, giving the Shortbelly catshark a velvety texture to body surface. There are no enlarged dermal denticles along the dorsal margin of the caudal fin.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Shortbelly catshark can be found in the Gulf of Aden in the Indian Ocean off of the Socotra Islands. They are considered pelagic-oceanic tropical, found at a depth range of between 3,281-3,675 feet.

Aesthetic Identification: The Shortbelly catshark is uniformly medium to dark brown in color. The Shortbelly catshark does resemble the Hoary catshark. The male Shortbelly catshark has longer claspers than the Hoary catshark. The claspers are also without hooks.  The first dorsal fin is much smaller than second dorsal fin. The first dorsal fin originates distinctly posterior to level of pelvic-fin insertion. The second dorsal-fin insertion is clearly anterior to the level of anal-fin insertion. The Shortbelly catshark, like in its name, has a very short abdomen. The pectoral-pelvic space is much shorter than the anal-fin base length. The pectoral-fin tip is posterior to the level of the midpoint of the pectoral-pelvic space. The posterior margin of exorhipidion is forming a free lobe.

Biology and Reproduction: The spiral valves are between 17-19. The monospondylous count is between 33-36 and precaudal diplospondylous vertebrae count between 34-38. They are more than likely oviparous.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

Shortbelly Catshark Future and Conservation: They are currently of least concern.  

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