Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Carcharhiniformes Scyliorhinidae

Scientific Name: Apristurus aphyodes
Species Authority: Nakaya & Stehmann, 1998
Common Name(s):
English White Ghost Catshark
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N. (ed.). 2015. Catalog of Fishes. Updated 5 March 2015. Available at: (Accessed: 5 March 2015).
Taxonomic Notes: The genus Apristurus contains at least 32 described species and a relatively large number of potentially undescribed ones. Morphological conservatism and, until recently, a lack of objectively defined characters makes this one of the most taxonomically confused shark genera (Compagno 1984, Nakaya and Sato 1999).

Nakaya and Sato (1999) defined three species-groups within Apristurus: the longicephalus-group (two species), brunneus-group (20 species), and spongiceps-group (10 species). A. aphyodes belongs to the spongiceps-group, characterized by: a short, wide snout (prenarial length < 6% total length(TL)); 7 to 12 valves in the spiral intestine; upper labial furrows subequal to, or shorter than the lower furrows; a continuous supraorbital sensory canal.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-11-17
Assessor(s): Walls, R.
Reviewer(s): Kemp, J.R. & Duffy, C.A.J.
Contributor(s): Huveneers, C.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Walls, R., Dulvy, N. & Frazer, K.

White Ghost Catshark (Apristurus aphyodes) is a deepwater catshark known only from a limited number of specimens taken from upper to mid continental and insular slopes in the Northeast Atlantic at depths of 1,014−1,800 m. Most of this species’ range is outside the reach of deepwater fisheries. Its limited interaction with deepwater fisheries suggests that overexploitation risk is low; therefore it is assessed as Least Concern in European waters.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2004 Data Deficient (DD)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

In the Northeast Atlantic, this species occurs from northern Bay of Biscay and Porcupine Seabight to Lousy Bank (49° 31.9’N to 60° 49.7’N). The depth range is 1,014−1,800 m.

Countries occurrence:
Faroe Islands; France (France (mainland)); Iceland; Ireland; Spain (Spain (mainland)); United Kingdom (Great Britain, Northern Ireland)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – northeast
Lower depth limit (metres): 1800
Upper depth limit (metres): 1014
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


The population trend is unknown for this species. The zero Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and zero bycatch measures in place for certain deepwater sharks in European Commission (EC) waters may impede the collection of catch and landings data because of potential increased discarding (ICES 2013).

Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

This species is known from 30 specimens taken from the Northeast Atlantic slope at depths of 1,014−1,800 m. It occurs on or near the bottom over upper to mid continental and insular slopes where the bottom temperature is 3.7−9.6°C and salinity is 35.1−34.9 ppm.

This catshark is relatively small and sluggish. The maximum reported size for the species is 54 cm total length (TL). Males and females are adolescent at 40 cm and 46 cm TL, and mature at 47 cm and 50 cm TL, respectively. It is an egg-laying species, but nothing else is known about reproduction (Nakaya and Stehmann 1998, Ebert and Stehmann 2013).

Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The species is not utilised nor traded commercially.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Apristurus species are sometimes caught in large numbers since deepwater trawl fishing began along the Northeast Atlantic continental slopes in the 1990s (Ebert and Stehmann 2013). If these deepwater fisheries expand into this species’ depth range, bycatch should be monitored. At present there are no signs of deepwater fishery expansion in European waters.

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 TAC (total annual catch) covering this species in 2007 (CEC 2012). This TAC was gradually reduced until 2010 when it was set at zero. Since 2012, there has also been a zero bycatch limit (ICES 2007). The harvesting trends of the species should be monitored. 

Citation: Walls, R. 2015. Apristurus aphyodes. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T44207A48925828. . Downloaded on 07 October 2015.
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