Description & Behavior

Pygmy ribbontail catsharks, Eridacnis radcliffei (Smith, 1913), are one of the smallest living sharks in the ocean reaching only 23 cm in length. These sharks have two spineless dorsal fins, equal in size, with the first located above their abdomen and slightly closer to their pelvic fins than their pectorals. Their mouth is triangular in shape. The pygmy ribbontail gets their name from their narrow ribbon-like caudal (tail) fins with prominent dark bands. This species is dark brown in color with with black markings on their dorsal fins.

World Range & Habitat

Pygmy ribbontail catsharks, Eridacnis radcliffei, are found in the Indo-west Pacific, near Tanzania, the Gulf of Aden, India (in the Gulf of Mannar, and Bay of Bengal), Sri Lanka, Andaman Islands, Vietnam, and the Philippines at depths ranging from 71-766 m. This species tends to inhabit muddy bottoms on the upper continental and insular (island) slopes and outer shelves. Pygmy ribbontail catsharks have a broad range compared to other members of the genus Eridacnis.

Feeding Behavior (Ecology)

Pygmy ribbontail catsharks feed on small bony fishes, crustaceans and occasionally on squid.

Life History

Pygmy ribbontail catsharks, Eridacnis radcliffei, are an ovoviviparous species that produces 1-2 pups per litter. Pups are born measuring about 10 cm in length. Because this is a small shark species, females reach sexual maturity at only 17 cm in length, males at 18 cm.

Ovoviviparous: eggs are retained within the body of the female in a brood chamber where the embryo develops, receiving nourishment from a yolk sac. This is the method of reproduction for the “live-bearing” fishes where the pups hatch from their egg capsules inside the mother’s uterus and are born soon afterward. Also known as aplacental viviparity.

Conservation Status & Comments

Pygmy ribbontail catsharks are often caught as bycatch by bottom trawlers.

References & Further Research

Pillai P.P. & Biju Parakal 2000 Pelagic sharks in the Indian seas – their exploitation, trade, management and conservation. CMFRI Special Publication No.70:1-95

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