Catshark in the Gulf of Mexico with a small dorsal fin

The Smallfin catshark (Apristurus parvipinnis) is a shark belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae found in the western Atlantic in the Gulf of Mexico at depths between 2,083-3,724 feet. This shark is oviparous, and has a unique crest of enlarged dermal denticles running along the dorsal caudal margin. This species isn’t evaluated, but is quite common.


Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Apristurus 

Species: parvipinnis


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks




Average Size and Length: Adult males have been measured at 48 cm/1.6 feet, and females at 52 cm/1.7 feet.

Teeth and Jaw: The labial furrows are long. The uppers reach the upper symphysis and the lowers are shorter.

Head: The head is broad and flattened. The snout is broad and rounded. The mouth is under the eyes. The eye length is much greater than the widest gill slit.

Denticles: The dorsal caudal margin has a fairly prominent crest of enlarged dermal denticles.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Smallfin catshark can be found in the west Atlantic in the Gulf of Mexico and the mainland Caribbean in the USA, Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Colombia, Surinam, and French Guiana. There were a few records coming from the Indian Ocean that are more than likely a misidentification. They can be found on the continental slope, on or near the bottom between 2,083-3,724 feet. They are considered bathydemersal.

Aesthetic Identification: The Smallfin catshark is grey-brown to blackish. The first dorsal fin is extremely small and originates behind the pelvic fin insertions. The anal fin is large and elongated. It is separated from the tail fin by a small notch.

Biology and Reproduction: They are oviparous. Not much else is known.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown. They may be nocturnal.

Smallfin Catshark Future and Conservation: They are not evaluated. They are quite common in the Gulf of Mexico from deep-water trawl catches.

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