Galeus murinus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Galeus murinus
Species Authority: (Collett, 1904)
Common Name(s):
English Mouse Catshark
French Chien Nordique
Pristiurus murinus Collett, 1904
Taxonomic Notes: This species may have been confused with one other, and possibly two other species, causing uncertainty in some of the literature. Pristiurus jenseni Saemundsson, 1922, is considered a junior synonym of this species. Recent analyses indicate that life-history data collected from specimens of Galeus murinus are incompatible with Saemundsson’s (1922) description of Pristiurus jenseni and data on Galeus murinus, provided in Magnússoni’s (2000) fishery survey. Consequently, two possibilities require investigation: (1) The synonym P. jenseni is a valid species from Iceland, larger than G. murinus, and commonly confused with it and/or (2) G. murinus is in part confused in Magnússon et al. (2000) with a larger species of Apristurus present in Iceland. Molecular phylogenetic analysis of G. murinus was conducted by Iglésias et al. (2005) and Pristiurus jenseni requires critical taxonomic examination.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2008-12-01
Assessor(s): Iglésias, S.
Reviewer(s): Valenti, S.V. & Fowler, S.L. (Shark Red List Authority)
A relatively small (reaches ~50 cm length) deepwater catshark known from the west coast of Iceland to the Faeroes Channel, and more recently off Scotland and the Hebrides Islands, Ireland, France and Western Sahara, Northwest Africa. Reported on the continental slope at depths of 380–1,250 m. This species may have been confused with one other, and possibly two other species, causing uncertainty in some of the literature and further investigation is required into this species’ taxonomy. It is taken as bycatch by commercial deepwater trawlers operating on the Northeast Atlantic slope and by Spanish and Moroccan experimental fisheries off western Africa. However, this species is small and may be able to escape through the mesh of trawl nets used in the Northeast Atlantic. Galeus murinus may be relatively fecund, like some other small catsharks, and therefore resilient to depletion in fisheries. Furthermore, its relatively wide depth and geographic range probably afford it refuge from fishing pressure in parts of its distribution. Given these factors there is no reason to suspect that this species has declined and it is assessed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Northeast Atlantic and eastern central Atlantic: known from the west coast of Iceland to the Faeroes Channel (Compagno et al. 2005) and more recently recorded from Hebrides, Scotland, Ireland, France and Western Sahara, Northwest Africa (Iglésias et al. unpub. data).
Faroe Islands; France (France (mainland)); Iceland; United Kingdom (Great Britain); Western Sahara
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – eastern central; Atlantic – northeast
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Apparently common in deepwater on the European slope (S. Iglésias pers. obs. 2007). This species was caught during Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) trawl surveys in the Rockall Trough (Gordon 1999). Between 0.0037 (paired warp) and 0.0008 (single warp) individuals per 1,000 m² were caught at 1,000 m, which made up 0.03% and 0.02% respectively of the total catch of all species. At 1,250 m, 0.0003 (in both paired and single warp) individuals per 1,000 m² were caught, which made up 0.002% and 0.01% respectively (for paired and single warp) of the total catch of all species. This species was not caught in deeper waters than 1,250 m. The mouse catshark was also caught at 1,000 m and 1,250 m in Porcupine Seabight (Gordon 1999). The species is a common species in deep sea along the European slope.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: A bathydemersal deepwater species known from the continental slopes and reported at depths of 380–1,250 m (Compagno et al. 2005). Magnússon et al. (2000) reported it at depths of 656–1,731 m, but the data most probably included another species also, with which G. murinus was confused (see Taxonomy section).

Analysis of 101 specimens collected during fishery surveys on French trawl vessels from 1997–2003, suggests that size at maturity is 41.2 cm for females and 41.6 cm for males (Iglésias et al. unpublished data). Maximum observed size reported by Iglésias et al. (unpub. data) is 49.1 cm TL. Whereas Magnússon et al. (2000) report that the species reaches up to 85 cm, and the holotype of the synonym P. jenseni is reported at 63 cm TL. Taxonomic confusion causes uncertainties in the published life-history data for this species.

Size at birth is unknown but may be ~8-9 cm (TL), based on egg case sizes (Iglésias et al. 2002). Reproduction is oviparous, with a single egg case per oviduct carried at the same time (Iglésias et al. 2002).

This species mainly feeds on shrimps (Pasiphaea multidentata, Sergestes robustus and small unidentified species), crustaceans (Dorhynchus thomsoni), and other fish (Micromesistius poutassou and unidentified species), and unidentified cephalopods (S. Iglésias pers. obs. 2007).
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is a common bycatch of commercial deepwater trawlers operating on the northeast Atlantic slope. It is a small species and could potentially escape from the meshes of trawls used in northeast Atlantic waters.

Experimental deepwater fisheries have been conducted by Spain and Morocco off western Africa (S. Iglésias pers. obs. 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: No measures in place.

Citation: Iglésias, S. 2009. Galeus murinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 29 May 2015.
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