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Cat Sharks. Scyliorhinidae species.

All images and text on this page are copyright protected: © 2010 Kelvin Aitken.
All rights reserved. Students may use this information for personal research only. Not for commercial use.

Order: Carcharhiniformes
Family: Scyliorhinidae
Species: ApristurusmAsymbolus, Atelomycterus, Aulohalaelurus, Bythaelurus, Cephaloscyllium, Cephalurus, Figaro, Galeus, Halaelurus, Haploblepharus, Holohalaelurus, Parmaturus, Pentanchus, Poroderma, Schroederichthys & Scyliorhinus
Taxonomic name (of species shown): Asymbolus rubiginosus

With 17 genera and over 150 species, catsharks are the largest family of sharks. The name 'catshark' comes from these sharks' cat-like eyes and their slender shape. Despite their diversity, very little is known about them. This is due partly to their nocturnal lifestyle and deep-water habitats; some species are found a depth of more than 2000 m while others can be found in shallow sheltered bays.
It can be difficult to differentiate between species of catsharks due to similarities in colouring and patterns as well as overlapping ranges with both shallow and deep water species. Catsharks can be found in all Australian waters from the far northern tropics to the cold temperate zones south of Tasmania. Externally they differ from the similar dogfishes by having an anal fin and from the houndsharks by having the first dorsal fin, when viewed in profile, slightly over or behind the pelvic fins. These harmless sharks live on the seabed where they eat small fish and invertebrates.

Draughtboard Swell Shark (Cephaloscyllium laticeps)

The swell sharks, so named for their ability to blow themselves up like blimps with water or air, make up a large group within this family. The most common species of swell shark encountered by anglers and divers is the harmless Draughtboard Shark. It is found in cool southern waters from New South Wales to Western Australia. Its brown to grey body is covered with dark blotches and spots that give it the appearance of a chessboard. The head is slightly flattened and the golden eyes are almond-shaped. The pectoral fins are large and two dorsal fins are set well back on the body. Draughtboard Sharks are often found squeezed into lobster pots where they have become caught while looking for food. Their pale ridged egg cases are often found attached to kelp or weed.

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