StatisticsLength: up to 75cm
When to seeJanuary to December
AboutThe small-spotted catshark is a small shark, so named due to the dark spots and blotches covering its skin. All sharks have very rough skin, covered in hard "dermal denticles" - which literally means "tiny skin teeth". If rubbed the wrong way, they are very coarse like sandpaper but it provides the shark with an effective chain-mail like protection.
Catsharks are predators and feed on crabs, molluscs and other small fish. When threatened, they curl up into a donut shape - probably to look bigger and harder to eat! They are highly common around the UK and live close to the seabed in shallow waters down to 100m deep. They sometimes wash up dead on our beaches after storms, but you're most likely to come across one of their egg cases. Known as mermaid's purses, shark (and ray and skate) egg cases are a good indicator of what species are breeding nearby. The small-spotted catshark has a small eggcase (5-7cm) with curly tendrils at each corner.
How to identifyThe most common shark in UK seas. It is smaller and more spotty than the scarcer nursehound (also known as large spotted dogfish or bull huss). The small-spotted catshark has very rough, pale cream skin, large dark cat-like eyes and a small mouth. The eggs cases or 'mermaid's purses' are often found washed up onshore. They are 5-7cm long with curly tendrils coming from the corners.
In our area
Small-spotted catsharks are one of the most common species found around Europe and can be found pretty much around the whole UK and Irish coastline! They tend to live in relatively shallow waters, rarely venturing more than 50m deep. During the warmer months more females will be found closer to shore to lay their eggs.