Apristurus spongiceps


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Apristurus spongiceps
Species Authority: (Gilbert, 1905)
Common Name(s):
English Spongehead Catshark
French Holbiche Tête Molle
Spanish Pejegato Esponjosa
Parapristurus spongiceps (Springer, 1979)
Pentanchus spongiceps (Fowler, 1941)
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). The spongiceps-group is characterized by: a short, wide snout (prenarial length <6% TL, 0.36 to 0.94 times in interorbital); 7 to 12 valves in the spiral intestine; upper labial furrows subequal to, or shorter than the lower furrows; a continuous supraorbital sensory canal (Nakaya and Sato 1999). A. spongiceps is readily distinguished from its congeners by its unique pleated gills (Compagno 1984).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Huveneers, C. & Duffy, C.
Reviewer(s): Kyne, P.M., Cavanagh, R.D. & Fowler, S.L. (Shark Red List Authority)
Known only from the holotype, a 51.4 cm total length (TL) female caught near Bird Island, Hawaiian Islands, and a 10.5 cm TL juvenile caught in the Banda Sea, southern Sulawesi. Recorded on or near the bottom at 572 to 1,482 m depth. Insufficient information is available to assess the species beyond Data Deficient.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The species is known from only two specimens in the tropical Pacific Ocean from Hawaiian Islands and the Banda Sea, southern Sulawesi.
Indonesia (Sulawesi); United States (Hawaiian Is.)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – western central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Only two specimens known.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: A rare shark known only from two specimens taken on insular slopes, on or near the bottom at 572 to 1,482 m depth. The holotype is a 51.4 cm TL gravid female (Hawaiian specimen). The other known specimen is a 10.5 cm TL juvenile (Sulawesi specimen).

Apristurus species are relatively small, sluggish sharks that live on or near the bottom on the upper continental slope. Diet includes crustaceans (penaeid shrimps, euphausiids), squids and small fishes. Where known reproduction is oviparous with one egg per oviduct. Egg cases are usually thick-walled and about 5 to 6.8 cm long and 2.5 to 2.9 cm wide. The anterior end of the case has a long weak fibrous thread on each corner. The posterior end usually has two small processes, each with a long coiled tendril. As in shallow water scyliorhinids the coiled tendrils are probably used to attach the egg cases to hard substrates and/or biogenic structures as they are laid.
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Unknown. Other species of deepwater Chondrichthyans are known to be captured as bycatch in deepwater fisheries. As these fisheries expand globally, consideration needs to be given to the fact that this species too may be captured incidentally in deepwater fisheries.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: No conservation measures are currently in place for this species.

Citation: Huveneers, C. & Duffy, C. 2004. Apristurus spongiceps. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 28 August 2015.
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