Sharks play an essential rol in the health of our oceans


Scyliorhinus stellaris

PeterVerhoogDSS_catshark_Scyliorhynus stellaris

Nursehound or catshark, © Peter Verhoog, Dutch Shark Society

The  nursehound is a member of the family of the catsharks (Scyliorhinidae) and the order of the ground sharks (Carcharhiniformes).

 This shark is also called ‘large catshark’, and is primarily found in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. The nursehound has larger spots then the spotted catshark, and nasal flaps do not reach the mouth. This nocturnal hunters swims between rocks and algae, and hides in crevices and holes during the day. Sometimes, several animals use the same to rest in. The nursehound hunts just off the bottom, and preys on bony fishes, crustaceans and cephalopods. The nursehound is oviparous. It mates in deep water, and then lays its  paired eggs (one per oviduct) in shallow subtidal areas.  The eggs are approx. 6 cm long and deposited on algae, sea grass or other vertically growing organisms. The embryos feed solely on yolk. The cases have tendrils at each corner that can anchor them to objects and organisms.  Fully formed pups hatch after seven to twelve months, depending on water temperature, and are approx. 16 cm in length.

  • Maximum length: 160 cm
  • Maximum weight: 5-10 kg
  • Maximum lifespan: unknown
  • Habitat: 0 tot 125 meter depth
  • Catches: catsharks are consumed in many European countries, and are sold under various names: catfish, rock salmon and rock eel. The skin was often used as sandpaper. It is frequently caught by recreational anglers. The impact of fishing activities on the nursehound is difficult to assess as species-specific data is generally lacking. This species is more susceptible to overfishing than the small-spotted catshark because of its larger size and fragmented distribution, which limits the recovery potential of depleted local stocks. There is evidence that its numbers have declined significantly in several regions.
  • Status: ‘Neat Threatened’ on the international IUCN Red List (



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