A once common shark now vulnerable

The Smoothhound or Common Smoothhound (Mustelus mustelus) is a shark belonging to the family Triakidae. It is found in the eastern Atlantic Ocean from the British Isles to South Africa, and in the -Mediterranean Sea, Madeira, and the Canary Islands. Their depths range from 16-2,051 feet, though they typically stay between 16-164 feet. They are a somewhat larger shark within their genus. This shark is commonly mistaken for other sharks.


Family: Triakidae – Houndsharks

Genus: Mustelus 

Species: mustelus


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Triakidae

Common NameHoundsharks




Average Size and Length: They are born around 39 cm/1.2 feet. Mature males have been measured between 70-74 cm/2.3-2.4 feet, and mature females at 80 cm/2.6 feet. The maximum for a male has been 110 cm/3.6 feet and the maximum for a female has been 164 cm/5.3 feet. There have been reports of them reaching 200 cm/6.5 feet.

Teeth and Jaw: The upper labial furrows are longer than the lower labial furrows. The teeth are low crowned with weak cusps.

Head: The head and snout are short. It is broad internarial. The eyes are large and close set.

Tail: The ventral caudal lobe is semifalcate.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Smoothhound or Common Smoothhound can be found in the East Atlantic from the UK to the Mediterranean in Morocco, Canary Islands and possibly the Azores, Madeira. They are also found in Angola to South Africa on the coast of the Indian Ocean (58°N – 34°S, 19°W – 36°E). They are found in temperate waters on continental shelves and upper slopes typically between 16-164 feet. They are often found in the intertidal zone and to at least 1,148 feet, possibly down to 2,051 feet. They are considered demersal.

Diet: They typically feed on crustaceans, but also cephalopods and bony fish.

Aesthetic Identification: The Smoothhound or the Common Smoothhound is a somewhat large and slender shark. It usually is grey to grey brown without any spots. On occasion there are dark spots. It is white ventrally. The dorsal fins are unfringed.

Biology and Reproduction: They are viviparous with a yolk sac placenta having 4-15 pups per litter. Gestation is typically 10-11 months.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: They seem to prefer swimming near the bottom, but sometimes they have been found in midwater. They may also aggregate.

Smoothhound or Common Smoothhound Future and Conservation: They are currently vulnerable. They were common among their range and are important to fisheries in the European, Mediterranean and West African waters. They are typically taken by bottom trawlers, line fishing as well as fixed nets. Their meat is used fresh, frozen, smoked and dried-salted. They are commonly caught by sport fishermen and are also kept in aquaria.

Smoothhound or Common Smoothhound Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.