Animals, make up your mind. Do you want to be a shark, a dog or a cat? All are FINE preferences (I lean more towards shark/dog though), but make up your minds.
Carl Linnaeus in 1758 for his tenth edition of Systema Naturae, he gave it its current scientific name, with stellaris being Latin for “starry” (due to its pattern). In 1973, Stewart Springer designated this species to the Scyliorhinus genus. It’s common name, “nursehound,” is from an old belief by English fishermen that this shark attends to its smaller relatives.
Their eyes are oval in shape, with a thick fold of skin on the lower rim but they lack a nictitating membrane. The nursehound has small black dots covering the top of its body, with brown spots of varying shapes (but usually larger than the black dots); they have gray/brown skin under these dots and spots. Their pattern varies amongst individuals as well as age, as there may be white spots or the brown spots are so big the whole top side of the shark is a dark brown blob.
That’s right, I said, “blob.” Science word used correctly.
The underside continually is white, though, with no other markings.
As we said earlier, they’re nocturnal so during the day they basically hide in caves and small holes, resting… and waiting for nightfall so they can feed on fish, small sharks, crustaceans and cephalopods.
Like any other catshark, they are oviparous, with females laying eggs in pairs from March to October. Known breeding grounds include the River Fal estuary and Wembury Bay in England, as well as a few coastal sites in the Italian Peninsula (e.g. Santa Croce Bank in the Gulf of Naples). Adults migrate to shallower water in the spring or early summer, and mate only at night. In the North Sea and Atlantic, these eggs take 10-12 months to hatch while those in the Mediterranean take 7 months to hatch; all eggs can be found in bunches of seaweed.
They are caught through bottom trawls, gillnets, bottom longlines, handlines and fixed bottom nets. However, fishery impact is difficult to assess as there isn’t much data for it. They are susceptible to overfishing due to their large size and fragmented range. It’s because of this that the IUCN has assessed them as “Near Threatened,” (NT).