Galeus murinus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Carcharhiniformes Scyliorhinidae

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 Magnússon’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: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-10-06
Assessor(s): Iglésias, S.
Reviewer(s): Dulvy, N.
Contributor(s): Walls, R. & Fordham, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Walls, R., Lawson, J. & Dulvy, N.

Mouse Catshark (Galeus murinus) is a relatively small (about 50 cm total length) deepwater catshark reported on the continental slope at depths of 380–1,250 m. This species may have been confused with one or two others, causing uncertainty in some of the literature and further investigation is required into its 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. Like some other small catsharks, this species may be relatively fecund 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 range. Given these factors there is no reason to suspect that it has declined and it is assessed as Least Concern.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2009 Least Concern (LC)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

In the Northeast Atlantic this species is found off the west coast of Iceland to the Faroe Islands (Compagno et al. 2005), and more recently it has been found off Scotland, the Hebrides Islands, Ireland, France, and Spain (Rodríguez-Cabello et al. 2013). In the Eastern Central Atlantic, it is found off Morocco and the Western Sahara (Ebert and Stehmann 2013). Its depth range is 380-1,250 m.

Countries occurrence:
Faroe Islands; France (France (mainland)); Iceland; Ireland; Morocco; Portugal (Madeira); Spain (Canary Is., Spain (mainland)); United Kingdom (Great Britain)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – northeast; Atlantic – eastern central
Lower depth limit (metres): 1250
Upper depth limit (metres): 380
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


All available information on population relative abundance for this species is from the Northeast Atlantic. International Council for the Exploration of the Sea’s (ICES) surveys of Subarea VII (Irish Sea, West of Ireland, Porcupine Bank, Eastern and Western English Channel, Bristol Channel, Celtic Sea North and South, and Southwest of Ireland - East and West) have reported this catshark in very low abundance (Velasco et al. 2010, Ruiz-Pico et al. 2012, Fernández-Zapico et al. 2013). Surveys from the 1970s to the 1990s obtained this species in the Rockall Trough and Porcupine Seabight during Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) trawl surveys (Gordon 1999). In the Rockall Trough catches of this species were minimal, and at 1,250 m, 0.0003 individuals were caught per 1,000 m2.

Over the past 14 years, the relative abundance of this species between depths of 500 and 1,500 m from the Scottish deepwater survey was, on average, one individual per hour in ICES Subarea VI (Rockall, Northwest Coast of Scotland and North Ireland). In 2012, there were no catches of this species during surveys in Subarea VII (ICES 2013), nonetheless it is considered to be relatively common throughout its range (Rodríguez-Cabello et al. 2013). Preliminary analyses using negative binomial General Linear Modeling suggest no trend in relative abundance over time (ICES 2013).

It can be inferred that this species’ population is stable in the Northeast Atlantic, as it is caught in such low numbers even in the deepest surveys and the rate of capture has remained stable since the 1970s.

Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

This small catshark is 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 that was confused with this species (see “Taxonomic Notes” section). In the Porcupine Seabight west of the British Isles, it has been caught between 1,000 and 1,250 m, but no deeper than this (Gordon 1999).

This species is egg laying with a single egg case produced per oviduct and carried simultaneously (Iglésias et al. 2002). Size at birth is unknown but may be approximately 8−9 cm total length (TL), based on egg case sizes (Iglésias et al. 2002). Males mature between 50 and 63 cm TL while female size at maturity is unknown (Ebert and Stehmann 2013), and maximum size reported is at least 63 cm TL for males and 50 cm TL for females. However, taxonomic confusion has warranted previously published life history data for this species to be used with caution.

Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is no information on the use and trade of this species.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The species is a common bycatch of commercial deepwater trawlers operating on the Northeast Atlantic slope, with little economic value to fishers. While France and Spain have reported small quantities of bycatch, its small size means that it could potentially escape from the mesh of trawls and its deepwater habitat likely precludes it from being taken in large numbers in Northeast Atlantic waters. However, its range overlaps that of Blackmouth Catshark (Galeus melastomus) and it is likely that this species is a common component of mixed catshark catches that possibly also include Atlantic Sawtail Catshark (Galeus atlanticus) (ICES 2013).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Based on advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea to end fishing for deepwater sharks, the European Union Fisheries Council established a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for this species in 2007 (CEC 2012). This TAC was gradually reduced and in 2010 set at zero. In 2011, the allowable bycatch was also reduced from 10% to 3% of the 2009 TAC and in 2012 it was further reduced to zero (ICES 2013). Additionally, the Northeast Atlantic Fisheries Commission Recommendation 7 (2013) requires member Parties to prohibit vessels in the Regulatory Area from directed fishing for deepwater sharks. Further research should be conducted to clarify its taxonomic status.

Citation: Iglésias, S. 2015. Galeus murinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T161705A48941031. . Downloaded on 28 November 2015.
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