Poroderma africanum 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Carcharhiniformes Scyliorhinidae

Scientific Name: Poroderma africanum (Gmelin, 1789)
Common Name(s):
English Pyjama Shark, Pyjama Shark, Striped Catshark
Squalus africanus Gmelin, 1789

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2005-10-01
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Compagno, L.J.V.
Reviewer(s): Musick, J.A. & Fowler, S.L. (Shark Red List Authority)
This assessment is based on the information published in the 2005 shark status survey (Fowler et al. 2005).

This inshore catshark has a restricted zoogeogeographic and bathymetric range in a heavily fished, well-populated area of South Africa. Although generally not targeted at present, the Pyjama Shark (Poroderma africanum) is subject to fisheries pressure from commercial and sports fisheries. Its status is of concern because of increasing regional fisheries for small sharks for the export market over the last few years.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This endemic coastal species is confined to the extreme Southeast Atlantic and western Indian Ocean off South Africa, from the intertidal to 100 m depth, but mostly found in waters shallower than 100 m. It is restricted to temperate waters of South Africa off the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape Provinces, but has its centre of abundance off the Western Cape. There are old records of this species from Madagascar and Mauritius, but these require confirmation and may be erroneous (Compagno in prep. b).
Countries occurrence:
South Africa
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – southeast; Indian Ocean – western
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):100
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

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

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Most male Pyjama Sharks are adolescent at about 78-81 cm and adult males are recorded between 75-91 cm. Most females are adolescent at about 79-83 cm and adult between 75-93 cm. All individuals of both sexes are mature above 89 cm (10-13 years old). Size at hatching is about 14-15 cm. This species apparently reproduces all year long, with both sexes gonadally active (Compagno in prep. b).

The oviparous (egg-laying) females produce one egg from each of the two oviducts at a time, but the number of eggs laid yearly is unknown (probably two or more). The single ovary averages about 15-20 ovae between 4-35 mm in diameter all year, but it is not known if all of these mature and are laid during a given year. Eggs are laid in large (5×10 cm) egg cases which hatch after several months on the bottom (over five months in captivity).

In the intertidal and subtidal zone this social shark congregates and rests in favoured caves and crevices on rocky reefs and in kelp beds during the daytime. It is more active at night but will feed by day. Prey includes a variety of small marine organisms including cephalopods, crustaceans, bony fishes, hagfishes, small batoids, bivalves and polychaete worms as well as fish offal. Cephalopods are favoured food items but the food spectrum varies by size and area. It readily takes baited hooks on fishing tackle.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Aquarium trade

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is taken as bycatch locally in unregulated inshore line and net fisheries and caught on longlines, in gillnets and beach-seines, and in bottom-trawls in open access waters. This bycatch is largely unutilized. There is little human consumption but the species is sometimes taken for lobster bait.
Adults attain a sufficiently large size and are common enough locally in the Western Cape to have the potential for a high-value export fishery for human consumption, though it is unlikely that this could be sustained for more than a short period. The Nursehound (Scyliorhinus stellaris) and the Smallspotted Catshark (S. canicula) are fished in the northeast Atlantic for human consumption, but these species are far more wide ranging than the Pyjama Shark.

Sports anglers regularly catch the species throughout its limited range but the catch is usually not utilised and either killed or released after capture. Some individuals are tagged and released. The species is also taken in small numbers for the aquarium trade. It is a hardy shark that regularly survives capture trauma and thrives in captivity.

There are no data to indicate any past reduction or ongoing decline in numbers, range or habitat quality, but this could possibly have already occurred, or may occur in future. For example, this species and other local catsharks deposit their eggs in benthic spawning areas which could be adversely affected by pollution or by ecological changes that increase egg predation by gastropods and other benthic predators.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species occurs in two marine reserves within its range, but is not specially protected within these reserves.
The South African Sea Fisheries Research Institute is considering laws to decommercialise the pyjama shark along with its congener the Leopard Catshark (Poroderma pantherinum). This would not specifically protect either species from being killed as commercial bycatch, nor would it prevent sports fishers from catching them, but it would restrict targeted commercial fishing for export including the aquarium, shark meat and fin trade as well as sport fisheries for lobster bait.

Citation: Compagno, L.J.V. 2009. Poroderma africanum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T39348A10211867. . Downloaded on 24 September 2018.
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