Small-spotted catshark

Scyliorhinus canicula

The small-spotted catshark or lesser spotted dogfish, Scyliorhinus canicula, is a cat shark of the family Scyliorhinidae found on the continental shelves and uppermost slopes off Norway and the British Isles south to Senegal, including the Mediterranean between latitudes 63° N and 12° N. Its length is up to 1 m (3.3 feet) and it can weigh more than 2 kg (6.5 lb). It is found primarily over sandy, gravely or muddy bottoms at depths of a few metres down to 400 m.The S. canicula is one of the most abundant elasmobranchs in the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. The majority of the populations are stable in most areas.

The S. canicula are small, shallow-water sharks with a slender shaped body with a blunt head. The two dorsal fins are located towards the tail end of the body. The texture of their skin is rough, similar to the coarseness of sandpaper. The nostrils are located on the underside of the snout and are connected to the mouth by a curved groove. The underside is a lighter greyish-white colour and the upper side is greyish-brown with darker spots. Dorsal colour is sandy and tightly tan, with numerous small spots and dark brown or nearly black in colour. The teeth of S. canicula in males are larger than in females. In male S. canicula from West African waters, their jaws are stronger, larger and more calcinated. The reasons for the changes in their mouth dimensions during maturation could explain their feeding habits and adaptations for reproductive behavior.

Reproduction is oviparous. They deposit egg-cases that are protected by a horny capsule with long tendrils. The deposited egg-cases are mostly on macroalgae in shallow coastal waters. When the egg-cases are deposited farther from shore, they are placed on sessile erect invertebrates. These eggs usually measure 4 cm by 2 cm, without ever exceeding 6 cm. These egg-cases can be found around the coasts of Europe. The embryos develop for 5–11 months, depending on the sea temperature and the young are born with a measurement of 9–10 cm. Spawning can take place almost all year round. However, there are can be seasonal patterns in spawning activity as well. For example, S. canicula females that are located off the Mediterranean coast of France, lay their eggs from March to June and in December. In the waters surrounding Great Britain, egg laying occurs in spring with a gap between August and October. In the Tunisian Coast, the sharks lay their eggs starting in spring, peaking in the summer and then slightly decreasing during Autumn. Males reach sexual maturity with a length of about 37.1-48.8 cm. Females reach sexual maturity with a length of 36.4-46.7 cm.

Read more on Wikipedia