Small-Spotted Catshark (Scyliorhinus canicula)
Large-Spotted Catshark (Scyliorhinus stellaris)
Both member of the family Scyliorhinidae, the small and large spotted catsharks have a plethora of alternative names. These include lesser-spotted dogfish, rock salmon, sandy dogfish or rough hound (small-spotted catshark) and nursehound, large-spotted dogfish, greater-spotted dogfish or bull huss (large-spotted catshark).
Small-spotted catsharks can reach sizes of 1m, whilst the large-spotted catsharks reach a larger size of 1.6m. The closely related species look extremely similar, however, the large-spotted catshark have larger spots and nasal flaps which, unlike the small-spotted catshark, do not reach the mouth.
Both species are found in the inter-tidal zone, up to 400m deep, though are much rarer below a depth of 100m. Small-spotted catsharks prefer sandy, muddy, and rocky bottoms, whereas the large-spotted catsharks prefer calm, quiet bottoms.
With regards to reproduction, both species are oviparous. They deposit egg-cases mostly in shallow coastal waters. These egg-cases are tough and offer protection, with large-spotted catsharks egg-cases being slightly larger (10-13cm, as opposed to the 6cm length of the small-spotted catsharks egg cases).
The small-spotted catshark has a much longer lifespan, at up to 75 years as opposed to up to 20 years for the large-spotted catshark.
Small-spotted catshark – IUCN status Least Concern
Large-spotted catshark – IUCN status Near Threatened
Where to find them:
Small-spotted catsharks are one of the most abundant elasmobranchs in the Northeast Atlantic, with many being found in British waters. Both species are frequently caught by Liverpool Bay Marine Life Trust on their tagging trips, however, they are not a species we currently tag.
Both the small and large-spotted catsharks are considered opportunistic feeders, feeding on a wide range of species, including crustaceans and bony-fish (such as mackerel). Large-spotted catsharks will also eat smaller sharks, such as the small-spotted catshark.
Did you know that catsharks are distinguishable from dogfish by their anal fin, which dogfish do not have.
Did you know the large-spotted catshark has such rough skin that it was once used to polish wood.