|Range of the tiger catshark|
Scyllium natalenseRegan, 1904
The tiger catshark (Halaelurus natalensis) is a species of catshark, belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. It is found over sandy areas and near reef peripheries off South Africa and perhaps Mozambique, from close to shore to usually no deeper than 100 m (330 ft). Reaching a length of 50 cm (20 in), this small, slim shark has a broad, flattened head with an upturned snout tip. It can additionally be identified by its dorsal colour pattern of ten dark brown saddles on a yellowish brown background.
Bottom-dwelling and inactive, the tiger catshark feeds on a wide variety of fishes and invertebrates from on or near the sea floor. An oviparous species, the female retains her eggs internally until the embryos are at an advanced state of development, resulting in a relatively short hatching time after laying. Between 12 and 22 encapsulated eggs are produced at a time, which the female attaches to the bottom. The tiger catshark is caught incidentally by commercial and recreational fishers but has no economic value. It has been listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
British ichthyologist Charles Tate Regan described the tiger catshark in a 1904 issue of the scientific journal Annals and Magazine of Natural History , based on two specimens presented to the British Museum by J. F. Queckett. He placed the species in the genus Scyllium (a synonym of Scyliorhinus ) and gave it the specific epithet natalense, because the type specimens were reportedly collected off the Natal coast of South Africa (though there is suspicion that they were mislabelled and actually came from Algoa Bay).Later authors reassigned this species to the genus Halaelurus . The lined catshark (Halaelurus lineatus) was once treated as conspecific to the tiger catshark, until it was described as a separate species in 1975.
The body of the tiger catshark is slim and firm, and it grows up to 50 cm (20 in) long. The head is broad and flattened, with a distinct and upturned snout tip. The horizontally oval eyes are situated high on the head and protected by rudimentary nictitating membranes. Beneath each eye is a broad ridge, and behind is a spiracle. The medium-sized nostrils are divided by lobe-like flaps of skin on their anterior rims. The nasal flaps do not reach the large mouth, which forms a wide arch and bears short furrows around the corners. When the mouth is closed, the centre of the lower jaw falls well short of the upper, leaving the upper teeth exposed. The teeth are small and 3-cusped (rarely 5-cusped), with the central cusp the longest. The five pairs of gill slits are placed higher than the level of the mouth and face somewhat upwards.
The pectoral fins are fairly large and rounded. The origin of the first dorsal fin lies over the last third of the pelvic fin bases, while the origin of the much larger second dorsal fin lies over the rear of the anal fin. The claspers of adult males are moderately long and tapering,though those of some individuals may be knob-shaped and spiky. The anal fin is roughly equal in size to the pelvic fins, and smaller but longer-based than the second dorsal fin. The short caudal fin has an indistinct lower lobe and a ventral notch near the tip of the upper lobe. The skin is thick; the dermal denticles have three-pointed crowns and are widely spaced compared to other species in the genus. Coloured yellowish brown above and cream below, this shark has a characteristic series of ten dorsal saddles from the head to the tail; each saddle is dark brown with a darker edge and a lighter middle. Unlike in the similar lined catshark, there are no spots or additional markings between the saddles.
The tiger catshark is endemic to southern Africa, but the limits of its distribution are not well known. It is known to occur off the Western and Eastern Cape, South Africa, while easterly records from KwaZulu-Natal and Mozambique are uncertain due to confusion with the lined catshark. A common, bottom-dwelling inhabitant of the continental shelf, this shark favours sandy flats and the edges of reefs. It is usually found from the shore to a depth of 100 m (330 ft); sharks in the eastern part of its range tend to occur in deeper water than those in the west. There are species records from as deep as 172 m (564 ft), as well as a single dubious record from 355 m (1,165 ft) down on the continental slope. It may segregate by size, with the adults found farther from shore.
The tiger catshark is a sluggish predator of a diverse array of benthic organisms.Its diet is dominated by bony fishes and crustaceans, and also includes cephalopods, polychaete worms, smaller sharks, and scavenged fish offal. It has been observed at the spawning grounds of the chokka squid (Loligo vulgaris reynaudi), feeding on squid that have descended to the bottom to mate and deposit eggs. Documented predators of this species include the broadnose sevengill shark (Notorynchus cepedianus) and the ragged tooth shark (Carcharias taurus).
Reproduction in the tiger catshark is oviparous: females produce 6–11 (typically 6–9) eggs in each of their two oviducts at a time. 4 cm (1.6 in) long and 1.5 cm (0.59 in) across; the capsule has thick tendrils at the corners that allow it to be secured to the sea floor. The female retains the eggs internally until the embryos are substantially developed, measuring at least 4.3 cm (1.7 in) long. Thus, the eggs hatch within only one or two months of being laid, reducing the amount of time that they are exposed to predators. Males and females begin to reach sexual maturity at lengths of 29–35 cm (11–14 in) and 30–44 cm (12–17 in) respectively.The eggs are contained in tough capsules around
Harmless to humans,the tiger catshark is caught incidentally by bottom trawlers, recreational anglers, and rarely squid fishers. Though edible, it is not a valued catch and is usually discarded. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) presently classifies this species as vulnerable.
The Australian swellshark or draughtboard shark, is a species of catshark, and part of the family Scyliorhinidae, endemic to southern Australia. This bottom-dwelling species can be found on the continental shelf down to a depth of 220 m (720 ft). Usually measuring 1 m (3 ft) long, it is a stout-bodied, broad-headed shark with a short tail and a first dorsal fin much larger than the second. It can be identified by its variegated dorsal coloration of brown or gray patches and numerous spots.
The blotchy swellshark, or Japanese swellshark, is a common species of catshark, belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. The Blotchy swellshark is found at depths of 90–200 m (300–660 ft) in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, from Japan to Taiwan. It is benthic in nature and favors rocky reefs. Reaching 1.4 m (4.6 ft) in length, this thick-bodied shark has a broad head, large mouth, and two unequally-sized dorsal fins positioned far back past the pelvic fins. It can be identified by its dorsal coloration, consisting of seven brown "saddles" and extensive darker mottling on a light tan background. This species has often been confounded with the draughtsboard shark and the Sarawak pygmy swellshark in scientific literature.
The coral catshark is a species of catshark in the family Scyliorhinidae. It is common on shallow coral reefs across the Indo-West Pacific, from Pakistan to New Guinea. Reaching up to 70 cm (28 in) in length, the coral catshark has an extremely slender body, a short head and tail, and two dorsal fins that are angled backwards. It can be identified by the numerous black and white spots on its back, sides, and fins, which often merge to form horizontal bars. Furthermore, adult males have distinctively long and thin claspers.
The pyjama shark or striped catshark is a species of catshark, and part of the family Scyliorhinidae, endemic to the coastal waters of South Africa. This abundant, bottom-dwelling species can be found from the intertidal zone to a depth of around 100 m (330 ft), particularly over rocky reefs and kelp beds. With a series of thick, parallel, dark stripes running along its stout body, the pyjama shark has an unmistakable appearance. It is additionally characterized by a short head and snout with a pair of slender barbels that do not reach the mouth, and two dorsal fins that are placed far back on the body. It can grow up to a length of 1.1 m (3.6 ft) long.
The leopard catshark is a species of catshark, and part of the family Scyliorhinidae, endemic to the coastal waters of South Africa. Abundant in inshore waters under 20 m (66 ft) deep, this bottom-dweller favors rocky reefs, kelp beds, and sandy flats. Growing to a length of 84 cm (33 in), the leopard catshark has a stout body with two dorsal fins placed well back, and a short head and tail. It is extremely variable in color and pattern, with individuals ranging from almost white to black and covered by diverse patterns of black spots, blotches, rosettes, and/or lines. The color pattern changes with age and some forms seem to be location-specific, suggesting the presence of multiple distinct, local populations. In the past, some of the more distinct color forms have been described as different species.
The Izak catshark or simply Izak is a species of catshark, belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae, common off the coasts of South Africa and southern Namibia. It typically inhabits the outer continental shelf at depths of 100–300 m (330–980 ft), with the males found deeper than the females and juveniles. The Izak catshark has a short, wide, flattened head and a robust body tapering to a long, slender tail. It can be identified by its ornate color pattern of dark brown spots or reticulations and blotches on a light yellowish background, as well as by the enlarged dermal denticles over its pectoral fins and along its dorsal midline from the snout to the second dorsal fin. This species reaches 69 cm (27 in) in length, with the males larger than females.
Haploblepharus is a genus of catshark, and part of the family Scyliorhinidae, containing four species of shysharks. Their common name comes from a distinctive defensive behavior in which the shark curls into a circle and covers its eyes with its tail. The genus is endemic to southern Africa, inhabiting shallow coastal waters. All four species are small, stout-bodied sharks with broad, flattened heads and rounded snouts. They are characterized by very large nostrils with enlarged, triangular flaps of skin that reach the mouth, and deep grooves between the nostrils and the mouth. Shysharks are bottom-dwelling predators of bony fishes and invertebrates. They are oviparous, with the females laying egg capsules. These harmless sharks are of no commercial or recreational interest, though their highly limited distributions in heavily fished South African waters are of potential conservation concern.
The sharptooth houndshark, or spotted gully shark is a species of houndshark in the family Triakidae found in shallow inshore waters from southern Angola to South Africa. Favoring sandy areas near rocky reefs and gullies, it is an active-swimming species that usually stays close to the bottom. This robust shark reaches 1.7 m (5.6 ft) in length and has characteristically large, rounded fins; the pectoral fins in particular are broad and sickle-shaped in adults. It also has a short, blunt snout and long furrows around its mouth. This species is gray or bronze in color above, with variable amounts of black spotting.
The puffadder shyshark is a species of catshark, belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae, endemic to the temperate waters off the coast of South Africa. This common shark is found on or near the bottom in sandy or rocky habitats, from the intertidal zone to a depth of 130 m (430 ft). Typically reaching 60 cm (24 in) in length, the puffadder shyshark has a slender, flattened body and head. It is strikingly patterned with a series of dark-edged, bright orange "saddles" and numerous small white spots over its back. The Natal shyshark, formally described in 2006, was once considered to be an alternate form of the puffadder shyshark.
The dark shyshark or pretty happy is a species of catshark, belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae, endemic to the temperate waters off southern Namibia and western South Africa. It is benthic in nature and inhabits shallow, inshore waters and favors rocky reefs and kelp forests. Growing to 60 cm (24 in) long, this small, stocky shark has a wide, flattened head with a rounded snout and a large flap of skin extending from before the nostrils to the mouth. Its dorsal coloration is extremely variable and may feature black-edged orange to blackish saddles and/or white spots on a light brown to nearly black background.
The quagga catshark is a species of catshark, belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. A small, slim-bodied shark reaching 37 cm (15 in) in length, it has a distinctive color pattern of narrow, dark brown vertical bars, which resemble those of the quagga. Its head is short and flattened, with a pointed snout tip that is not upturned.
The speckled catshark is a catshark of the family Scyliorhinidae. It is found in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. It occurs at depths of between 37 and 250 m. Its length is up to 48 cm.
The cloudy catshark is a common species of catshark, belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. It is a bottom-dweller that inhabits rocky reefs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, from the shore to a depth of 320 m (1,050 ft). Growing up to 50 cm (20 in) long, this small, slim shark has a narrow head with a short blunt snout, no grooves between the nostrils and mouth, and furrows on the lower but not the upper jaw. It is also characterized by extremely rough skin and coloration consisting of a series of dark brown saddles along its back and tail, along with various darker and lighter spots in larger individuals.
The Antilles catshark is a common but little-known species of catshark, part of the family Scyliorhinidae. It is found on or near the bottom at a depth of 293–695 m (961–2,280 ft) off Florida and the West Indies from Jamaica to Martinique. It was once regarded as a subspecies of the similar roughtail catshark, along with the longfin sawtail catshark. Growing to 46 cm (18 in) long, the Antilles catshark is a slender species with a marbled color pattern of dark saddles and blotches, as well as a crest of enlarge dermal denticles along the front part of its dorsal caudal fin margin. It feeds on shrimp and may have schooling habits. Reproduction is oviparous.
The longfin sawtail catshark is a rare, little-known species of catshark, part of the family Scyliorhinidae. Once thought to be a subspecies of the roughtail catshark along with the Antilles catshark, it inhabits deep water off the Caribbean coasts of Panama and Colombia. This slim-bodied species has a marbled dorsal color pattern and a prominent crest of enlarged dermal denticles along the dorsal edge of its caudal fin. It can be distinguished from similar species by its relatively longer anal fin and small adult length of under 35 cm (14 in). The longfin sawtail catshark is oviparous.
The gecko catshark is a species of catshark, part of the family Scyliorhinidae, native to the northwestern Pacific Ocean from southern Japan to Taiwan, and possibly also off Vietnam. It is a common, demersal species found at depths of 100–900 m (330–2,950 ft). Its body is slender, with a pattern of dark saddles and blotches. The dorsal and caudal fins are edged in white, and there is a prominent crest of enlarged dermal denticles along the dorsal edge of the caudal fin. The gecko catshark is a schooling, opportunistic predator of bony fishes, cephalopods, and crustaceans. It is oviparous, with females producing two vase-shaped egg capsules at a time. This species is captured as bycatch, but does not appear to be threatened by fishery activities at present and has been assessed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The southern sawtail catshark is a species of catshark, part of the family Scyliorhinidae, endemic to southern Brazil. It inhabits deepwater reefs on the upper continental slope at a depth of 236–600 m (774–1,969 ft). Reaching at least 43 cm (17 in) in length, this slim-bodied species closely resembles the Antilles catshark. It has a prominent crest of enlarged dermal denticles along the dorsal edge of the caudal fin, as well as a distinctive color pattern of dark oval blotches, outlined in white, along its back. The southern sawtail catshark is oviparous, with females producing reddish egg capsules. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed it as Vulnerable; it is often taken as bycatch and may be threatened by intensifying squid fishing.
The African sawtail catshark is a species of catshark, part of the family Scyliorhinidae. Demersal in nature, it is found at depths of 160–720 m (520–2,360 ft) off the western African coast from Morocco to South Africa. This slender species has a rather long, pointed snout, a series of dark saddles along the back and tail, and a prominent crest of enlarged dermal denticles along the upper edge of the caudal fin. Its maximum known length is 46 cm (18 in).
Springer's sawtail catshark is a little-known species of catshark, belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae, found in waters 457–699 m (1,499–2,293 ft) deep off the islands of the Antilles, from Cuba to the Leewards. A small, slim-bodied species reaching a length of 48 cm (19 in), the 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. It is additionally characterized by the presence of saw-toothed crests, made of enlarged dermal denticles along both the dorsal and the ventral edges of the caudal fin. The Springer's sawtail catshark is oviparous.
The saddled swellshark is a rare species of catshark, and part of the family Scyliorhinidae, endemic to Eastern Australia. This bottom-dwelling species is found on the outer continental shelf and upper continental slope at a depth of 115–605 m (377–1,985 ft). It is a robustly built shark with a short, broad, flattened head and a capacious mouth. Adults are patterned with saddles on a brownish or grayish background, which varies between tropical and temperate sharks; juveniles are light-colored with many spots. This shark reaches 74 cm (29 in) in length. Like other swellsharks, it can inflate itself as a defensive measure. Reproduction is oviparous.