Nursehound Catshark

About the Nursehound Catshark

Nursehound catsharks can be found in the Northeast and Eastern Central Atlantic between southern Scandinavia and Senegal and in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Nursehounds are large-bodied catsharks that can be found inshore and offshore at depths between just below the surface of the water to a maximum of 409 m.  

Biology and Behaviour:

Nursehounds are commonly found in the 20 to 63 m range underwater and in shallow waters in the northeast Atlantic Ocean. They live on rough or rocky bottom or surfaces with algal cover. In the Mediterranean, nursehounds prefer coralline algal substrates.

The longest reported size for a nursehound catshark was 150 cm, but adults are commonly 125 cm. Males mature at 77 cm in length and females a little bit longer at 79 cm long.  

They are large and fairly stocky with large and small black spots and sometimes white spots that cover the dorsal surface and saddle markings. They have small anterior nasal flaps that do not reach their mouth and labial furrows on their lower jaw. Their second dorsal fin is smaller than the first.

Nursehounds feed mainly on: crustaceans and molluscs. They will also eat bony fish and other sharks including other catsharks. Adult nursehounds will feed more on cephalopods and teleosts than young nursehounds.

Reproduction and Lifespan:

Nursehound catsharks are oviparous and lay one egg at a times per oviduct. The egg cases are thick-walled (about 10 to 13 cm long with strong tendrils at each corner) are deposited on algae in the subtotal or extreme lower intertidal zone in spring and summer. Once the eggs are laid, they take up to nine months to hatch.  

Conservation and Tourism:

Two of the main threats to nursehounds are overfishing and habitat loss. Fisheries use bottom trawls, gillnets, bottom set long lines, landlines and fixed bottom nets and occasionally pelagic trawls end up capturing nursehounds as bycatch.

The IUCN lists nursehound catsharks as near threatened, however, they are protected in six marine reserves in the Balearic Islands.

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Scientific NameScyliorhinus stellaris
OrderGround Sharks - Carcharhiniformes
CitesNot Listed
IUCNNear Threatened
Litter Size1
SpeciesScyliorhinus stellaris
Common Length125 cm
Max Lenght150 cm
Depth Range1 - 409 m
DistributionEastern Central Atlantic, Northeast Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Sea
EnvironmentMarine, Reef-Associated