Apristurus laurussonii 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Carcharhiniformes Pentanchidae

Scientific Name: Apristurus laurussonii (Saemundsson, 1922)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Icelandic Catshark, Flathead Catshark, Madeira Catshark
French Roussette De Madère, Roussette D'Islande
Spanish Pejegato De Madera, Pejegato Islándico
Apristurus atlanticus (Koefoed, 1932)
Apristurus maderensis Cadenat & Maul, 1966
Scyllium laurussonii Saemundsson, 1922
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. laurussonii belongs to the brunneus-group, characterized by: a short, wide snout (prenarial length <6% TL); 13 to 22 valves in the spiral intestine; upper labial furrows obviously longer than the lower furrows; a discontinuous supraorbital sensory canal.

A. atlanticus was preciously distinguished from A. laurussonii (Nakaya and Sato 1998), however Iglésias and Nakaya (2004) could not find any significant differences between the holotype of A. atlanticus and A. laurussonii, and therefore consider A. atlanticus to be a junior synonym of A. laurussonii. Note: the illustration of A. atlanticus in Compagno (1984) is actually A. aphyodes (Nakaya and Sato 1998).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2007
Date Assessed: 2007-03-01
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Duffy, C. & Huveneers, C.
Reviewer(s): Kyne, P.M., Cavanagh, R.D. & Fowler, S.L. (Shark Red List Authority)
An apparently common deepwater catshark on the continental slope in parts of the North Atlantic at depths of 560 to 2,060 m. Apristurus laurussonii together with A. parvipinnis are reported to be the commonest Apristurus species in the Gulf of Mexico. Maximum size recorded is around 72 cm total length (TL). Although reported to be a relatively common bycatch in several deepwater trawl fisheries, insufficient catch and biological information is available to assess this species beyond Data Deficient at present.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Northwest and Western Central Atlantic: Massachusetts, Delaware and the northern Gulf of Mexico (USA, Mexico), Honduras and Venezuela.

Eastern Atlantic: Iceland, Ireland, Canary Islands and Madeira (Compagno in prep. b, Compagno et al. 2005, Nakaya and Sato 1998). Possibly further south to equatorial Africa (Compagno et al. 2005).
Countries occurrence:
Honduras; Iceland; Ireland; Portugal (Madeira); Spain (Canary Is.); United States (Delaware, Massachusetts); Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – western central; Atlantic – northeast; Atlantic – northwest; Atlantic – eastern central
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Apristurus laurussonii is apparently common on the continental slope at 560 to 2,060 m depth (Compagno in prep. b, Compagno et al. 2005). Apristurus laurussonii together with A. parvipinnis are reported to be the commonest Apristurus species in the Gulf of Mexico.

Maximum size recorded is ~72 cm TL (Nakaya and Sato 1998, 1999). The smallest mature female reported in the scientific literature is 59.2 cm TL (Nakaya and Sato 1998, 1999). Reproduction is oviparous with one egg per oviduct. Egg cases are thick, and about 6 cm long and 2.5 cm wide. The anterior end of the case has a long weak fibrous thread on each corner. The posterior end has two small processes each with a long coiled tendril. The surface of the egg case is covered by short, fine fibers that form a pattern of numerous fine striations running the length of the case (Nakaya and Sato 1998). 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.

Apristurus species are relatively small, sluggish sharks that live on or near the bottom. Diet includes crustaceans (penaeid shrimps, euphausiids), squids and small fishes (Compagno 1984, in prep. b).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Taken as bycatch in deepwater bottom trawl fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and Northeast Atlantic, but no details available on catch levels.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: No conservation measures are in place for this species. Further research is required to better document the species' distribution, biology and bycatch levels.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.1. Marine Neritic - Pelagic

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats

Bibliography [top]

Compagno, L., Dando, M. and Fowler, S. 2005. A field guide to the sharks of the world. Harper Collins Publishers Ltd., London.

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Sharks of the World: an annotated and illustrated catalogue of the shark species known to date. Part 2 - Carcharhiniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125, Vol. 4(2). FAO, Rome.

Compagno, L.J.V. In prep. b. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the shark species known to date. Volume 3. (Carcharhiniformes). FAO Species Catalogue for Fisheries Purposes No. 1, Vol.3. FAO, Rome.

Iglésias, S.P. and Nakaya, K. 2004. Apristurus atlanticus (Koefoed, 1927), a junior synonym of A. laurussonii (Saemundsson, 1922) (Chondrichthyes: Carcharhiniformes: Scyliorhinidae). Cybium 28(3): 217-223.

IUCN. 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 23 November 2004).

IUCN. 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 12th September 2007).

IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group. Specialist Group website. Available at:

Nakaya, K. and Sato, K. 1998. Taxonomic review of Apristurus laurussoni (Saemundsson, 1922) from the eastern North Atlantic (Elasmobranchii: Scyliorhinidae). Cybium 22(2): 149-157.

Nakaya, K. and Sato, K. 1999. Species grouping within the genus Apristurus (Elasmobranchii: Scyliorhinidae). In: B. Séret and J.-Y. Sire (eds). Proceedings of the 5th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference (Nouméa, 3-8 November 1997). Paris, Society Francaise d’Ichthyologie et Instutue de Recherches pour le Development: 307–320.

Citation: Duffy, C. & Huveneers, C. 2007. Apristurus laurussonii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2007: e.T44216A10873136. . Downloaded on 26 September 2018.
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