Scyliorhinus canicula 

Scope: Mediterranean
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Carcharhiniformes Scyliorhinidae

Scientific Name: Scyliorhinus canicula (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Small Spotted Catshark, Lesser Spotted Dogfish
French Petite Roussette
Spanish Pintarroja
Squalus canicula Linnaeus, 1758
Taxonomic Notes: May be some confusion with the larger and less common Scyliorhinus stellaris, which occurs within a similar range.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-03-25
Assessor(s): Serena, F., Ellis, J.R., Abella, A., Mancusi, C., Haka, F., Guallart, J., Ungaro, N., Coelho, R.P., Schembri, T. & Kirsteen, M.
Reviewer(s): Walls, R.H.L.
Contributor(s): Buscher, E.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Walls, R.H.L.
Mediterranean regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)

The Small Spotted Catshark (Scyliorhinus canicula) is a small (up to 100 cm total length), common catshark found from the shallows to 300 m depth. This is one of the most abundant elasmobranchs in the Mediterranean Sea. Although localized depletions appear to have occurred in some areas (e.g., off Malta), scientific surveys throughout the majority of its range suggest that the population is increasing in the Mediterranean Sea, as these localized declines are balanced by localized increases in other areas. Though commercial landings are reported and larger individuals are retained for human consumption, the species is often discarded and shows high discard survival rates. Additionally, it appears to have life history characteristics that may allow it to withstand current levels of exploitation. The species is therefore assessed as Least Concern in the Mediterranean Sea. Catches and population trends should continue to be monitored, particularly where this species is landed for consumption.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Small Spotted Catshark is found throughout continental shelf waters of the Mediterranean Sea (Compagno et al. 2005, Serena 2005) from the surface to >300 m depth.
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Algeria; Cyprus; Egypt (Egypt (African part), Sinai); France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Greece (Greece (mainland), Kriti); Israel; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna, Sicilia); Lebanon; Libya; Montenegro; Morocco; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Spain (Spain (mainland)); Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia, Turkey-in-Europe)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Mediterranean and Black Sea
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):300
Range Map:161399-3

Population [top]


This catshark is one of the most abundant elasmobranchs in the Mediterranean Sea. Data from the International Trawl Survey in the Mediterranean (MEDITS) recorded this species across a wide bathymetric range and in high abundance, particularly in the Gulf of Lions and the Catalan and Aegean Seas (Baino et al. 2001). Juveniles accounted for 78% of the entire sampled population, and maximum biomass indices were reported off northeast Corsica between 50 and 100 m depth (340 kg per km2; Baino et al. 2001). Abundance may also vary with depth, as standardized scientific surveys from the Aegean Sea between 1994 and 2008 showed that density was higher at depths ranging from 200−400 m in certain regions. Also in the Aegean Sea, abundance rates were relatively low from 2001−04 and have successively increased, reaching a maximum in 2008 (Maravelias et al. 2012). In the Adriatic Sea two comparable trawl surveys from 1948 and 1998 showed no significant difference in range and abundance (Jukic-Peladic et al. 2001), although there is evidence of increasing trawl fishing pressure in this region. The population is estimated to be increasing in Mediterranean waters.

Current Population Trend:Increasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

This is a small, temperate, bottom-dwelling catshark found from the shallow sub-littoral to the edge of the continental shelf. It is found at depths of at least 300 m in the north (Ellis et al. 2005a), and occurs in deeper waters further south and in the Mediterranean Sea. It is widespread and abundant on a variety of substrates (sandy, coralline algal, gravelly or muddy). It is known to aggregate by sex and size, though it is unclear whether this sexual segregation is behavioural or habitat-linked. Within sea loughs, females exhibit strong philopatric behaviour to refuging sites, whereas males are wider ranging and less philopatric (Sims 2003).

This is an egg laying species that deposits eggcases on macroalgae or sessile invertebrates in shallow coastal waters (Wheeler 1978, Capapé et al. 1991, Ellis and Shackley 1997, Rodriguez-Cabello et al. 2005). Captive studies have generated estimates of fecundity of 45−190 eggs per year in the Mediterranean Sea (Capapé 1977, Capapé et al. 1991). Annual fecundity estimation based on production of both egg cases and oocytes in Aegean Sea specimens was higher, between 40 and 240 per year (Lupi 2008, Koustenia et al. 2010). Spawning can take place almost year-round (Capapé 1977, Capapé et al. 1991, Ellis and Shackley 1997). Gestation period is eight to nine months on average, but can range from five to 11 months (Ellis and Shackley 1997).

Size at birth is 7−11 cm total length (TL; Ellis and Shackley 1997). Size at maturity reportedly ranges from 35−47 cm TL for females and 30−44 cm TL for males (Capapé 1977, 2000; Jardas 1979; Ungaro et al. 2002; Lupi 2008; Koustenia et al. 2010; Taleb Bendiab et al. 2012). Maximum sizes on record range between 80 cm TL (Relini et al. 1999, Ellis et al. 2005b) and 100 cm TL (Compagno et al. 2005). The species is generally smaller in the Mediterranean Sea than the neighbouring Atlantic waters (Compagno et al. 2005).
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species may be landed for human consumption in the Mediterranean region.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The Small Spotted Catshark is a bycatch in various Mediterranean demersal fisheries and is retained for human consumption in some areas. It is a commercially valuable species in Italy where only individuals <36 cm TL are discarded (Abella and Serena 2005). Additionally, semi-industrial fisheries for this species operate in Spain, the Adriatic Sea, Sicily, and Cyprus. It is regularly found in fish markets in countries around the Adriatic Sea, as well as Greece and Malta, where it is sold under the generic name of "Mazzola". Landings data from Malta indicate that catches fell during 1985−95, but this might not indicate population decline. Although demersal fishing pressure is intense in many parts of the species Mediterranean range, and local depletions may have occurred in some areas, this species has high survivorship following discard in those areas where it is not targeted, with a reported survival rate of almost 100% in Mediterranean otter trawl fisheries (Sanchez et al. 2000). Furthermore, the small size of this species implies a quicker intrinsic rate of population increase compared with larger sharks, and perhaps an increased chance of escaping fishing gear.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no species-specific conservation measures in place in the Mediterranean Sea. Research should be conducted on the catch trends of this species, particularly in areas where it is targeted.

Citation: Serena, F., Ellis, J.R., Abella, A., Mancusi, C., Haka, F., Guallart, J., Ungaro, N., Coelho, R.P., Schembri, T. & Kirsteen, M. 2016. Scyliorhinus canicula. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T161399A16527801. . Downloaded on 16 August 2018.
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