TFUI is proud to introduce the brown smooth-hound (Mustelus henlei), also known as the ‘mud shark,’ ‘dogfish,’ ‘paloma,’ ‘sand shark,’ and ‘Henle's shark.’ This slender shark, is brown coloured on top, while it sports a silvery underbelly. Their teeth are blunt to crush their prey, which includes crabs, shrimp, isopods, squid, polychaete worms, and tunicates. They also feed on small teleost fish, but this change in diet comes from maturity (i.e. as the shark matures).
These sharks, as well as other smooth-hounds, are commonly mistaken with the soupfin shark. However, soupfin sharks have their second dorsal fin beginning behind their anal fin. The brown smooth-hound is abundantly seen in the Gulf of California to Humboldt Bay, California. Here, they can be observed anywhere from the shallows to depths of 110 m (360 ft). They prefer the sand and mud substrates of continental shelves of Mexico to Ecuador.
They are a small shark that reaches about 0.9 m (3 ft) in length. Brown smooth-hounds can be seen in either schools or as individuals, and are sometimes seen with spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) and leopard sharks (Triakis semifasciata). As a viviparous species, they have a gestation period of about 10 months, which results in 3-5 pups being born. Like most small sharks, these have predators that include larger sharks, such as the broadnose sevengill shark (Notorynchus cepedianus). The copepods Pandaris bicolor and Perissopus oblongatus are reported parasites of this shark, too.
The brown smooth-hound is often taken as bycatch, although they are marketed fresh, smoked, and frozen for human consumption. They are also fished recreationally off the coast of California, and are often seen in aquariums due their small size and hardiness in captivity. It is listed as Least Concern (LC) by the IUCN.
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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