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Mustelus punctulatus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA CHONDRICHTHYES CARCHARHINIFORMES TRIAKIDAE

Scientific Name: Mustelus punctulatus
Species Authority: Risso, 1827
Common Name(s):
English Blackspotted Smoothhound
French Emissole Pointillee
Spanish Musola Pimienta
Taxonomic Notes: The distribution of two other Mustelus species (M. asterias and M. mustelus) overlaps with this species and misidentification is probably common.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2003-09-30
Annotations:
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Serena, F., Mancusi, C., Haka, F., Morey, G. & Schembri, T.
Reviewer(s): Valenti, S.V. & Fowler, S.L. (Shark Red List Authority)
Justification:
The Blackspotted Smooth Hound (Mustelus punctulatus) is poorly known, partly as a result of confusion with the more common Common Smooth Hound (Mustelus mustelus), within its range. This demersal shark is found on the continental shelf (to 200 m depth) in the Mediterranean Sea and off Western Sahara in the eastern central Atlantic. Very little information is available on populations of this species, partly due to confusion with other Mustelus species, but it seems to be very rare where surveys have been undertaken in the northern Mediterranean Sea. Blackspotted Smooth Hound is more common, however, in the southern Mediterranean and it appears to be abundant on coasts of Tunisia and Libya. Like other Mustelus species in this region, it is taken as bycatch in trawls and other demersal fisheries. Landings data are often grouped and therefore species-specific information is not currently available on landings, although Mustelus species are retained and utilised for human consumption in many areas. As a result of confusion with its congeners and a lack of data on catches and abundance, this species is currently assessed as Data Deficient. However, given that it is apparently rare, may be fished throughout its range and evidence that other Mustelus species have declined, further investigation is a priority.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea: Western Sahara and Mediterranean Sea (absent from the Black Sea) (Compagno et al. 2005).
Countries:
Native:
Algeria; Egypt; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna, Sicilia); Libya; Morocco; Spain (Spain (mainland)); Tunisia; Western Sahara
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Atlantic – eastern central; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Very little information is available on populations of this species, partly due to confusion with the more common species of Mustelus within its range, but it seems to be very rare where surveys have been undertaken in the northern Mediterranean Sea. M. punctulatus was recorded in only one of 6,336 hauls during northern Mediterranean scientific trawl (MEDITS) surveys (at depths of 50-800 m) from 1994-1999 (Baino et al. 2001). Jukic-Peladic (2001) compared data from the Adriatic Sea collected during the Medits survey (1998) with that from the Hvar survey (1948). M. punctulatus was not reported from either survey, although M. mustelus and M. asterias were present in both surveys. This species was also absent from bottom trawl surveys conducted off the Balearic Islands between 1998 and 2001, (at depths of 40-1,800 m) (Massutí and Moranta 2003).

The percentage presence of this species in 22 GRUND (Italian) surveys carried out from 1985-1998 in Italian waters was also very low (2.48%) and very few specimens of this species were caught in the northern Tyrrhenian Sea, northern-central Adriatic and south of Sicily island (Relini et al. 2000).

The species is apparently more common in parts of the southern Mediterranean Sea. It is common along the Tunisian coasts (Bradai et al. 2002), where it seems to be more abundant towards the south, in the gulf of Gabès and also along the coast of Libya (M.N. Bradai pers. comm. 2008).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The biology of this demersal, coastal shark is poorly known because of confusion with the more common Mustelus mustelus (Compagno in prep). It is found on the continental shelf, on sandy and gravelly substrates and amongst sea grass beds, to 200 m depth (Serena 2005). Reproduction is presumably viviparous. Attains a maximum size of at least 95 cm total length (TL) (Compagno et al. 2005). Males mature at 50-55 cm TL and females at ~60 cm TL (Compagno et al. 2005). Size at birth is ~31 cm TL (Compagno et al. 2005).
Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Mustelus spp are retained and marketed for human consumption in many parts of the Mediterranean Sea and probably on the western coasts of Africa.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is caught by demersal trawl and coastal small scale fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea (STECF 2003). There is a semi-commercial fishery for Mustelus spp in the Adriatic Sea (about 11,000 tons/year for Mustelus species). Regular visits to the central fish auction wharf of Palma de Mallorca (Balearic Islands) have not reported catches of M. punctulatus during 1999-2003 (G. Morey pers. obs.). Trammel nets, gillnets, bottom trawls and longliners operate in this area. Although Bradai (2000) observed that this species is common in the Gulf of Gabès (Tunisia), it seems to be very scarce at least in the northern range of the Mediterranean, probably as a consequence of both overfishing and habitat alteration. Mustleus spp have shown signs of depletion in the Mediterranean Sea, although they may be locally abundant in some areas (STECF 2003). Landings for Mustelus spp are often grouped as "smoothhounds nei" in landings statistics and therefore no species-specific data are available on landings. Furthermore, at least for Italian catches, these reported catches do not correspond to the taxonomic group, but often consist of an aggregation of small-sized demersal sharks including Mustelus spp. (the true smoothhounds), Squalus spp., Centrophorus spp., Dalatias licha, Scyliorhinus spp., and Galeus melastomus. This is because these species are usually marketed headed, skinned and eviscerated, and sold under the commercial name of "palombo", the Italian name of Mustelus (STECF 2003). Therefore, direct observations are required to collect species-specific data on the volumes of catches for Mustelus spp, whose identification are difficult for non-biologist observers.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: None in place. Research is needed on this species abundance, life-history and capture in and the effect of fisheries throughout its range, particularly from the southern Mediterranean and western coast of Africa. Further information from the southern Mediterranean Sea will become available on the species' biology and ecology shortly (M.N. Bradai pers. comm. 2008).

Citation: Serena, F., Mancusi, C., Haka, F., Morey, G. & Schembri, T. 2009. Mustelus punctulatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 01 October 2014.
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