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Shark Pictures Database
Names: Leopard catshark.
A relatively thick bodied catshark with long nasal barbells
reaching the mouth. Body colour grey or grey/brown with a pattern of dark
panther-like markings or spots that form irregular lines along the back.
Markings may be sparse.
Kelp forests, rocky reefs and mixed sandy or rocky substrates from surf line to
Endemic to South Africa. From Saldanha Bay on the Atlantic coast to Sodwana Bay
near the border of Mozambique. Possibly also around Madagascar and
Mauritius but sightings require verification.
nocturnal but sighted occasionally during the day.
Feeds on bony
fishes, octopus, crustaceans and polychaete worms.
Produces one egg per oviduct.
Conservation Status: The IUCN lists the leopard catshark as 'Data
Deficient'. It is probable that this shark has multiple separate
populations along the coastline, suggesting that the population is severely
fragmented. It is commonly caught by rock and surf anglers, and commercial line
fishermen who regard this shark as a pest which results in persecution and it is
frequently killed by line fishers. Although the species is apparently common at
present, its occurrence within areas of high fishing pressure, combined with the
commercial line fishers? negative attitude towards this shark and the
possibility that several subpopulations may exist leads to the recommendation
that a suitable monitoring program be established for this species. The habitat
that this shark occupies is also heavily utilised and extensive pollution and
habitat degradation of inshore environments may also be impacting populations.
There is a demand for this species for the aquarium trade, although number of
animals taken per year is unknown and needs to be determined. Insufficient
information is currently available on population trends and the impact of
threats throughout its range to assess it beyond Data Deficient. Careful
monitoring is required and the assessment should be revisited as further
information becomes available.
Citation: Human, B. 2009. Poroderma pantherinum. In: IUCN 2012.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>.
Miller's Point, Simon's Town, Cape Province, South Africa.
The leopard catshark's closest relative is the Pyjama shark
or striped catshark Poroderma africanum. The pyjama shark has distinct
longitudinal stripes that should easily differentiate the two in the field.
Reaction to divers:
Swims nonchalantly around divers but will retreat when harassed.
logistics: Easily encountered from
shore or while boat diving around Cape Town and likely elsewhere along the South
African coastline. Divers
carrying a few sardines that they can
break up on the reef, will be especially successful.
Big Fish Expeditions runs yearly
Shark Safari's in South Africa that include dives with this species.