April Elasmobranch of the Month: False Catshark
The False Catshark is a deep-sea ground shark. It has been described as ugly as a discarded sofa and was thus given the moniker ‘sofa shark’. Its proper name came from Felix de Brito, a shark scientist from Portugal who thought the predator’s eyes are similar to that of an actual catshark. It is found in continental slope and insular slope waters.
The False Catshark is a soft bodied fish that has a long first dorsal fin and a small caudal fin. Female False Catsharks grow to about 3 m ( 9.8 ft) in length. Males reach a maximum length of about 2.7m ( 8.85 ft). They have long, narrow eyes and a heavy body and are dark brown to grey in color. Maximum recorded weight is around 125kg (276lbs).
They have a soft and flabby musculature and skin which suggests that they lead a sluggish lifestyle, although they have been seen to capture prey with sudden bursts of speed when needed.
The False Catshark is found in continental and insular slope waters at depths between 200m and 1500m within. They have been recorded in both sides of the North Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
Feeding and diet
They swim slowly along the sea floor, preying upon fishes and invertebrates and scavenging on carcasses. It is also known to prey on the bioluminescent lantern sharks, squids and octopuses.
The False Catshark usually give birth to just two pups via aplacental viviparity. Females have a single ovary on the right and two functional uteri. During gestation period, the developing embryos are nourished by egg yolk, they then consume ova and egg fragments released by their mother. The embryos will ‘store’ the yolk material in their external yolk sac and extract it later when needed during the last stages of gestation.
K.Yano. 1992. Comments on the Reproduction Mode of the False Cat Shark Pseudotriakis microdon. Copeia. (2) pp 460-468.
MailOnline, Richard Gray for. “Elusive and Ugly False Catshark Captured off the Scottish Coast.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 30 Sept. 2015, www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3254715/Elusive-ugly-six-foot-long-shark-captured-Scottish-coast-False-catshark-usually-lives-4-600ft-deep-spotted.html.
Species Profile: The False Catshark.” We Love Sharks!, 13 July 2017, welovesharks.club/species-profile-the-false-catshark/.