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Chain Catsharks, Scyliorhinus retifer

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Description & Behavior

Chain catsharks, Scyliorhinus retifer (Garman, 1881), aka chain dogfishes, have 5 subspecies:

  1. S. retifer retifer (Garman, 1881) distinguished by a net-like pattern on cream-colored background;
  2. S. retifer meadi (Springer, 1966) distinguished by saddle-like blotches;
  3. S. retifer boa (Goode & Bean, 1896) distinguished by white spots in saddle blotches;
  4. S. retifer haeckelii (Miranda-Ribeiro, 1907) distinguished by numerous small black spots in saddle blotches; and
  5. S. retifer besnardi (Springer & Sadowsky, 1970) distinguished by large black spots aand indistinct saddles.

These sharks have a small, slender body that is boldly marked with a pattern of distinct black lines on a pale brown background. The origin of their first dorsal fin is found behind the rear tip of their pelvic fins. They are known for their beautiful, bright emerald green cat-like eyes. They reach a maximum size of 48 cm.

World Range & Habitat

The benthic (bottom-dwelling) chain catshark is found in the western Atlantic from southern New England to Florida in the USA and in the northern Gulf of Mexico to Nicaragua. In the western Caribbean they are found from the Yucatan Peninsula to Nicaragua. Their habitat is typically the outer continental shelf and upper slope on rough, rocky bottoms in depths ranging from 75-550 m.

Feeding Behavior (Ecology)

This small shark feeds on deep water prey such as small fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods.

Life History

Chain catsharks are oviparous, producing eggs that develop and hatch outside the body of the female. Related species have been bred successfully in captivity.

Conservation Status & Comments

This species is harmless and rarely encountered by humans in the wild. Very little is known about most catsharks due to their deep water nature and relatively low abundance.

References & Further Research - image database of sharks, skates, rays, and chimaera's from around the world by Andy Murch
Book of Sharks - Richard Ellis

Research Scyliorhinus retifer » Barcode of Life ~ BioOne ~ Biodiversity Heritage Library ~ CITES ~ Cornell Macaulay Library [audio / video] ~ Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) ~ ESA Online Journals ~ FishBase ~ Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department ~ GBIF ~ Google Scholar ~ ITIS ~ IUCN RedList (Threatened Status) ~ Marine Species Identification Portal ~ NCBI (PubMed, GenBank, etc.) ~ Ocean Biogeographic Information System ~ PLOS ~ SIRIS ~ Tree of Life Web Project ~ UNEP-WCMC Species Database ~ WoRMS

Search for Chain Catsharks » ARKive ~ ~ Bing ~ dmoz ~ Flickr ~ Google ~ NatureFootage ~ Picsearch ~ Wikipedia ~ Yahoo! Images ~ YouTube

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