Catalog Number: USNM 51590
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Collector(s): United States Fish Commission (USFC)
Year Collected: 1902
Locality: Vicinity of Modu Manu, or Bird Island, Center of Bird Island, S. 32 degrees, W. 12.8 miles [nautical]., Nihoa, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Hawaii, United States, Hawaiian Archipelago, Pacific
Depth (m): 572 to 1593
Habitat and Ecology
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.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 2 samples.
Depth range (m): 1255 - 1265
Temperature range (°C): 3.146 - 3.146
Nitrate (umol/L): 41.918 - 41.918
Salinity (PPS): 34.544 - 34.544
Oxygen (ml/l): 1.559 - 1.559
Phosphate (umol/l): 2.910 - 2.910
Silicate (umol/l): 130.298 - 130.298
Depth range (m): 1255 - 1265
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.
From 572 to 1482 meters.
Life History and Behavior
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
The spongehead catshark (Apristurus spongiceps) is a rare species of deep-sea catshark, family Scyliorhinidae. This species was only known from two specimens taken in the Pacific Ocean: an adult from near Bird Island, Hawaii, and a juvenile from the Banda Sea off Sulawesi. They are found on or near the bottoms of insular continental slopes, at depths of 570 to 1,480 meters. In 2002, the spongehead catshark was seen alive in its natural habitat for the first time, from the submersible Pisces IV at a depth of about a kilometer, on the Northampton Seamount off the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
The spongehead catshark has a thick body and head, with a moderately long, broadly rounded snout. The five pairs of gill slits are very small, and the septa between them are covered with unique pleats and folds that extend above and below, over the throat. The eyes are small and the nostrils are broad, with slit-like incurrent and excurrent openings. The mouth is long, large, and broadly arched, bearing prominently expanded dental bands. The two dorsal fins are about equal in size; the pectoral fins are rather small, while the pelvic fins are high and broadly rounded. The anal fin is short, high, and rounded. The caudal fin is moderately broad. The dermal denticles are closely set and give the skin a fuzzy or felt-like texture. It is dark brown, without fin markings.
The adult holotype measured 51.4 cm long and the juvenile measured 10.5 cm long. The juvenile was more slender than the adult, but shared the same distinctive pleated gills. As the holotype was a gravid female, the spongehead catshark is likely oviparous. The spongehead catshark belongs to the A. spongiceps species group, characterized by a short, wide snout, seven to 12 valves in the spiral intestine, the upper labial furrows subequal to or shorter than the lower furrows, and a continuous supraorbital sensory canal.
- Huveneers, C. and Duffy, C. (2004). Apristurus spongiceps. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2008). "Apristurus spongiceps" in FishBase. December 2008 version.
- Compagno, Leonard J. V. (1984). Sharks of the World: An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Shark Species Known to Date. Rome: Food and Agricultural Organization. ISBN 92-5-101384-5.
- Parrish, F. (Sep. 23, 2002). "Summary Log: Cruising Steeply through the Deep". NOAA Ocean Explorer. Retrieved on December 20, 2008.