The small-spotted catshark (Scyliorhinus canicula). This catshark has an identity crisis because it’s also known as the lesser-spotted dogfish.
And the rough-hound.
And the Scotland area refers to it as Morgay!
Phew. Talk about a mouthful of names! Thankfully, the scientific name stays the same. First and foremost a catshark, they’re in the Scyliorhinidae family just as any catshark is. Found swimming about the continental shelves and slopes off Norway, the British Isles, and all the way down to the Mediterranean, these are small animals (get up to about 1 metre long) and weight as much as a small kettle ball (2kg or 4.4 lbs for those asking).
These slender sharks prefer to reside in sandy, gravelly, or muddy bottoms in shallow waters. However, they have been observed down to 400 metres deep! #Finfact: Did you know that these sharks are one of the most abundant elasmobranchs in the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean? WOW! They’re lucky in that most of their populations worldwide are pretty stable; in fact, post-discard survival rates are quite high!
A pale background is the backdrop to darker bands and even darker spots on their shark. They range from pale yellow to brown to grey or black. With a flattened head and broad pectoral fins, this animal can blend quite well with its surroundings.
S. canicula is oviparous and eggs are hidden in macro-algae in shallow coastal waters. Depending on the temperature of the water, embryos can take anywhere from 5 to 11 months to develop. And what do these animals eat? Well, they’re pretty opportunistic! Their diet consists of crustaceans, molluscs, and fishes, but is known to eat a variety of other animals when given the chance. Dietary preferences seem to change with age, as the younger ones like smaller crustaceans and older sharks have a taste for hermit crabs and molluscs. Decadent, either way.
The IUCN has assessed this species as Least Concern (LC).
want to see this shark? so do we!
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
SEE MELISSA'S TEDx TALK HERE:
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