Sharks play an essential rol in the health of our oceans

Small-spotted catshark

Scyliorhinus canicula


PeterVerhoogDSS_Small Cat_Scyliorhynus canicula

Small spotted catshark, © Peter Verhoog, Dutch Shark Society

The small-spotted catshark is a member of the family of the catsharks (Scyliorhinidae) and the order of the ground sharks (Carcharhiniformes).

This catshark species lives in colder and and temperate waters, where it looks for food on sandbanks, up to depths of 85 m. It is primarily nocturnal, preying on fish, crustaceans and mollusks. De small-spotted catshark migrates from more southern waters to the North Sea, but is the most frequently observed shark in Europe.

This shark is oviparous. It mates in deep water, and then lays its 18 to 20 paired eggs (one per oviduct) in shallow subtidal areas. The embryos feed solely on yolk. The eggs are approx. 6 cm long and deposited on algae, sea grass or other vertically growing organisms; they have tendrils at each corner that can anchor them to objects and organisms. Most eggs are deposited in June and July, but can be laid throughout the year. Fully formed pups hatch after five to eleven months, depending on water temperature, and are about eight to ten cm in length.

The egg cases can regularly be found on the North Sea shores.

  • Maximum length: 60-80 cm
  • Maximum weight: 3 kg
  • Maximum lifespan: 75 years
  • Habitat: 0 tot 150 meter depth
  • Catches: the small-spotted catshark s caught for consumption, but is not of economic interest. It is also frequently caught by recreational anglers.
  • Status:  ‘Least Concern on the international IUCN Red List (





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