The chain catshark (Scyliorhinus retifer) is a small, uniquely patterned shark with a special power: it has the super power of fluorescence! Mikhail Matz, a marine biology professor at the University of Florida first observed this unique property in 2005, catching it on film. No one is sure what the purpose of this unique characteristic is, and more research needs to be done on it.
Also known as the chain dogfish, it has a pretty restricted range (only found in the western Atlantic Ocean in the Gulf of Mexico) which suggests it does not partake in large migrations. One limiting factor for this shark may be temperature, keeping it away from the northern western Atlantic during the winter. They are found swimming on the bottom of outer continental shelves and upper slopes, usually around 58 to 359 meters (190-1,178 ft). It can also be seen at shallower depths. These animals mostly spend their time resting, camouflaging with its surroundings to hide from larger fish and sharks.
Sometimes kept in aquariums, they mostly feed on teleost fish, squid, polychaetes and crustaceans.Females tend to be bigger (0.52 m/1.7 ft) than males (0.50 m/1.64 ft). Mating has been observed in these animals, showing that males bite onto pectoral fins for a better grip and mating occurs repeatedly. The female can store sperm and lay eggs (always in a pair) from different sperm pockets. The two eggs can have a birth interval of a few minute to almost a week! Egg cases are a dark amber color with white bands and two coiled tendrils, allowing them to snag onto rocks or other structures. Embryos take 8-12 months, depending on temperature in the water. Eggs are laid in their blastodisc form.
Bottom trawlers often capture large numbers of juveniles in certain locations (i.e. Virginia near the Chesapeake Bay), leading scientists to believe these are nurseries. As of right now, due to their small size, there is no fishery for these animals besides the aquarium business. The Scyliorhinus retifer is listed as a species of Least Concern (LC) by the IUCN.
ever heard of the chain catshark?
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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