Springers Sawtail catshark (Galeus springeri) is a little-known species of catshark, belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. They are found in deep water around a small group of islands in the Caribbean Sea. Springer’s Sawtail catshark can be identified by its color pattern of horizontal dark stripes in front of the first dorsal fin, and dark dorsal saddles behind. They have saw-toothed crests made of enlarged dermal denticles along both the dorsal and the ventral edges of the caudal fin.
Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks
Common Name– Ground Sharks
Common Name– Catsharks
Status: IUCN Red List DATA DEFICIENT
Average Size and Length: Immature males have been measured between 13-32 cm/5.1-12.6 inches. The maximum recorded was a female at 44 cm/1.4 feet, but more recently a record of a 48 cm/1.6-foot specimen exists.
Current Rare Mythical Sightings: Taxonomy: Springer’s Sawtail catshark was originally observed as the striped color morph of the Antilles catshark. The first known specimen had resided in the National Museum of Natural History for over 20 years, until an artifact of preservation revealed the distinctive ventral dermal denticle crest on the caudal fin. The species was described in a 1998 issue of the scientific journal Copeia by Hera Konstantinou and Joseph Cozzi, who named it after leading shark taxonomist Stewart Springer. The type specimen is a 32 cm/12.6 inches long immature male collected on December 8, 1969 near the Leeward Islands. It belongs to the G. arae species complex, which also includes G. antillensis, G. arae, G. cadenati, and G. mincaronei.
Teeth and Jaw: The mouth is large and forms a wide arch with moderately long furrows at the corners. The teeth are small and have a narrow central cusp flanked by multiple cusplets. They are similar in both jaws, and similar in both sexes.
Head: The head is somewhat flattened with a long, pointed snout. The eyes are horizontally oval and have nictitating membranes, which are followed by tiny spiracles and lack prominent ridges underneath. The nostrils are divided by triangular flaps of skin on their anterior rims.
Denticles: There is a distinct crest of enlarged dermal denticles along the upper and lower margin of the tail. The body is covered by small, overlapping dermal denticles, each with a teardrop-shaped crown with a median ridge and three marginal teeth.
Tail: The tail is elongated. The caudal fin has a small lower lobe and a ventral notch near the tip of the upper lobe.
Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: Springer’s Sawtail catshark can be found in the Caribbean Sea along the north coast of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Bahamas and the Leeward Islands. They are found on the upper insular slopes between 1,499-2,293 feet. Its range does overlap with the Antilles catshark, and both species can be easily confused, so the full extent of its range may not be known. They are considered deep-water bathypelagic.
Aesthetic Identification: Springer’s Sawtail catshark is the only known catshark with a pre-dorsal pattern of dark longitudinal stripes outlined with white on a dark background. There are dark saddles on the tail. The ventral surface is white. They have a slim or slender body with 5 pairs of gill slits. The first dorsal fin has a blunt apex and is placed over the aft part of the pelvic fins. The second dorsal fin is similar in shape and nearly equal in size to the first, and placed over the aft part of the anal fin. The pectoral fins are fairly large and broad. The small pelvic fins are low relative to their bases, and have angular margins. The anal fin is elongated and placed close to the pelvic and caudal fins; the anal fin base measures 11% of the total length, about comparable to the space between the dorsal fins.
Biology and Reproduction: More than likely they are oviparous.
Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.
Springer’s Sawtail Catshark Future and Conservation: There is not enough data to evaluate. They are not of any importance to commercial fisheries, however could be negatively impacted by deep water fisheries. It is occasionally caught by bottom trawlers.
Springer’s Sawtail Catshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.