Apristurus longicephalus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Carcharhiniformes Pentanchidae

Scientific Name: Apristurus longicephalus Nakaya, 1975
Common Name(s):
English Longhead Catshark, Smoothbelly Catshark
French Holbiche À Grande Tête
Spanish Pejegato Cabezón
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 longicephalus-group is characterized by a long, narrow snout (prenarial length > 6.4% TL). A. longicephalus is readily distinguished from A. herklotsi, the other member of the group, by a higher spiral valve count (13 to 17 c.f. 10 to 11 in A. herklotsi), a shorter snout (pre-oral length always < 12.2% TL c.f. >12.3% TL), and fewer tooth rows (36 to 44 and 31 to 41 rows upper and lower jaws c.f. 49 to 57 and 49 to 58 rows). A longicephalus is unique amongst the Apristurus species in having a duodenum almost as long as the valvular intestine. Both species have a continuous supraorbital sensory canal, and similar numbers of monospondylous vertebrae (Nakaya 1988a, 1988b, 1991, Nakaya and Sato 1999).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-02-17
Assessor(s): Duffy, C.A.J. & Huveneers, C.
Reviewer(s): Kyne, P.M. & Walls, R.H.L.
Contributor(s): Kyne, P.M. & Walls, R.H.L.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Kyne, P.M. & Walls, R.H.L.
The Longhead Catshark (Apristurus longicephalus) is a relatively small species (up to at least 59 cm total length) with a patchy known distribution in the Indo-West Pacific including Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and northern Australia. It is recorded over the continental slope at depths of 500–1,140 m. Throughout its geographic range this catshark may be taken as bycatch in deepwater fisheries, though species-specific catch data are not available. Despite being a poorly-known species, it is wide-ranging and has refuge at depth at least where it occurs off Australia, and is therefore assessed as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Longhead Catshark has a patchy distribution in the Indo-West Pacific with records from Tosa Bay of Shikoku Island, southern Japan; Okinawa Trough, East China Sea; the Philippines; Taiwan; the Seychelles; Mozambique; off North West Cape and Ashmore Reef, Western Australia; off Townsville, north Queensland, Australia; and New Caledonia (Iglesias et al. 2005, Last and Stevens 2009, Ebert et al. 2013).
Countries occurrence:
Australia (Queensland, Western Australia); China; Japan (Shikoku); Mozambique; New Caledonia; Philippines; Seychelles; Taiwan, Province of China
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):1140
Upper depth limit (metres):500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There is no information available on population size or structure.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Longhead Catshark occurs on or near the bottom of the continental slope at 500–1,140 m depth (Ebert et al. 2013). Males mature at 49 cm total length (TL), females at 51 cm TL, and the species reaches at least 59 cm TL (Last and Stevens 2009, Ebert et al. 2013). Male size at maturity is smaller than the other Japanese species (Longfin Catshark A. herklotsi, Flathead Catshark A. macrorhynchus, Spatulasnout Catshark A. platyrhynchus, and Japanese Catshark A. japonicus) suggesting it is a relatively small species (Nakaya 1988). Where known, reproduction of Apristurus species is oviparous with one egg per oviduct.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Not known to be utilized.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Throughout its geographic range this species may be taken as bycatch in deepwater fisheries, though species-specific catch data are not available. Deepwater fisheries may expand in future, though the species is likely to be able to find refuge at depths outside their reach. In Australian waters there is limited fishery activity within its range.

Conservation Actions [top]

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

Classifications [top]

11. Marine Deep Benthic -> 11.1. Marine Deep Benthic - Continental Slope/Bathyl Zone (200-4,000m) -> 11.1.1. Hard Substrate
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
11. Marine Deep Benthic -> 11.1. Marine Deep Benthic - Continental Slope/Bathyl Zone (200-4,000m) -> 11.1.2. Soft Substrate
suitability:Suitable season:resident 

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:No
  Occur in at least one PA:Unknown
  Area based regional management plan:No
  Invasive species control or prevention:Not Applicable
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
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
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Ebert, D.A., Fowler, S. and Compagno, L. 2013. Sharks of the World. Wild Nature Press, Plymouth.

Iglesias, S.P., Sellos, D.Y. and Nakaya, K. 2005. Discovery of a normal hermaphroditic chondrichthyan species: Apristurus longicephalus. Journal of Fish Biology 66(2): 417-428.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

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

Last, P.R. and Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Second Edition. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.

Nakaya, K. 1988. Morphology and taxonomy of Apristurus longicephalus (Lamniformes, Scyliorhinidae). Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 34(4): 431–442.

Citation: Duffy, C.A.J. & Huveneers, C. 2015. Apristurus longicephalus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T44217A68608927. . Downloaded on 24 September 2018.
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