Like many animals, this critter goes by a lot of names: spiny dogfish, cape shark, spurdog, mud shark, white-spotted spurdog, and piked dogfish. Scientifically known as Squalus acanthias, they are called ‘dogfish’ by fisherman to them hunting shoals of fish in ‘packs’... just like dogs.
This marine animal has a range of the shallows up to 1,460 metres deep and usually found at 50 - 300 metres. Found in the eastern Atlantic (Iceland to South Africa) and western Atlantic (from Greenland all the way down to Argentina), they are also found all around the Pacific Ocean, Mediterranean, and the Black Sea.
They are a small, slim fish with a grey-brown dorsal side that is speckled with white spots that match their creamy underbelly. Their two dorsal fins each have a venomous spine. #Finfact: their first dorsal fin spine is smaller than their second! Estimated to live between 20--75 years, they feed on octopuses, smaller sharks, squids, crabs, and even other shark egg cases. But even with the protection of those venomous spines, they are prey to cod, red hake, goosefish, bigger spiny dogfish, larger sharks, seals, orcas and even humans!
Spiny dogfish are highly migratory and tend to move towards the equator during the winter. Like many other shark species, they reproduce slowly and have a gestation lasting two years – it is supposedly the longest of any vertebrate! They are viviparous with a yolk-sac.
These sharks are considered by many to be the most abundant living shark, yet due to fishing pressure of some subpopulations, the IUCN has assessed them Vulnerable (VU).
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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