Don’t worry, though. It’s scientific name has obviously stayed the same, Scyliorhinus canicula. This catshark is a member of the Scyliorhinidae family. As most catsharks, they don’t get too big, only reaching a maximum left of 1 m (about 3 ft), and weighing more than 2 kg (about 4 lbs).
They have a slendy body and a blunt head, with its dorsal fins towards its butt. They are a grey/brown color with dark spots (dark brown or black in color). This helps it camouflage with its gravelly or muddy environment. Its underbelly is a light grey/white color.
They are opportunistic feeders, preying on mollusks, echinoderms, polychaetes, crustaceans, sipunculids and tunicates. They usually feed on mollusks and fish as their primary “go to” meals, though. As in some sharks, they do have dietary shifts; the young opt for small crustaceans while older ones opt for hermit crabs and mollusks. They are seen to exhibit a feeding behavior called “scale rasping,” where they anchor their food near their tail so they can tear away bite sized chunks from the struggling/now-dead prey.
As it is one of the common elasmobranchs in the NE Atlantic and Mediterranean, they are used for consumption however many taken by recreational and commercial fishermen are discarded. Unlike many sharks, who have low post-discard survival rates, they have a 98% survival rate. So while the population(s) seem stable now, scientists will continue to monitor fisheries for their discarded data sets including these animals, as so no decline occurs. The IUCN has assessed these animals as “Least Concern,” (LC).
For those who live in Europe have YOU seen this shark? Let us know!