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Squalus acanthias Linnaeus, 1758
Piked Dogfish; Spiny Dogfish; Spotted Spiny Dogfish; Spurdog; Victorian Spotted Dogfish; White Spotted Dogfish; White-spotted Dogfish; White-spotted Spurdog; Whitespotted Spurdog; Flakeus tasmaniensis Rivero, 1936; Koinga kirki Phillipps, 1931; Koinga lebruni Vaillant, 1888; Koinga whitleyi Phillipps, 1931; Acanthias lebruni Vaillant, 1888; Squalus fernandinus Molina, 1782; Squalus kirki Phillipps, 1931; Squalus tasmaniensis Rivero, 1936; Squalus whitleyi Phillipps, 1931; Pike dogfish

Life   Vertebrata   Fish   Squalidae   Squalus

Squalus acanthias Copyright Michel Lamboeuf · 0
Squalus acanthias

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Squalus acanthias
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Squalus acanthias

Main identification features
  • ds: 1st shorter, both with a spine
  • tail base - pr keels, pit above
  • nasal flaps triangular
  • sides - white spots
  • tail fin - no notch below tip
A slender cylindrical body, short snout; eyes about midway between snout tip and gill slits; 5 gill slits; moderate sized spiracles just behind eyes; nasal flaps short, not reaching mouth, with a minute or no secondary lobe, inner corners of nostrils closer to snout tip than to mouth; eyes without nictitating membrane; teeth similar sized, with strongly oblique tips on both jaws; no anal fin; 2 dorsal fins with ungrooved spines (shorter on first dorsal), origin of the first behind pectorals; tail base with a pair of keels and a pit above, tip of fin without a notch on underside; skin with denticles.

Color: grey above, white below; usually conspicuous white spots on sides; dorsal fin edges dusky in juveniles, plain in adults.

Reaches 160cm

Intertidal to 1460m; from the surface to the bottom, usually near the bottom; often in bays and estuaries.

Antitropical; Pacific, Atlantic and Mediterranean, also SW Indian Ocean. From Alaska to the Gulf of California.

Cites: Not listed.
Climate Zone: North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California); Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap).
Depth Range Max: 1460 m.
Depth Range Min: 1 m.
Diet: mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs); octopus/squid/cuttlefish; mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves; bony fishes; Pelagic crustacea.
Eastern Pacific Range: Northern limit=60; Southern limit=24; Western limit=-176; Eastern limit=-111; Latitudinal range=36; Longitudinal range=65.
Egg Type: Live birth; No pelagic larva.
Feeding Group: Carnivore.
FishBase Habitat: Bentho-Pelagic.
Global Endemism: TEP non-endemic; Circumtropical ( Indian + Pacific + Atlantic Oceans); All species.
Habitat: Sand & gravel; Mud; Water column; Soft bottom (mud, sand,gravel, beach, estuary & mangrove).
Inshore Offshore: Inshore; Offshore; In & Offshore.
IUCN Red List: Near threatened; Listed.
Length Max: 160 cm.
Regional Endemism: Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic; California province, primarily; Continent only; Eastern Pacific non-endemic; Continent; Temperate Eastern Pacific, primarily; All species.
Residency: Vagrant.
Salinity: Marine; Brackish.
Water Column Position: Surface; Mid Water; Near Bottom; Bottom; Bottom + water column;

Scientific source:

Links to other sites

  • Linnaeus, C., 1758., Systema Naturae, Ed. X. (Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata.) Holmiae., Systema Nat. ed. 10, 1:1-824.


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Common name (e.g. trout)

Genus + Species (e.g. Gadus morhua)

Squalus acanthias   Linnaeus , 1758

Picked dogfish Add your observation in Fish Watcher
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Picture by Murch, A.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes ( gen. , sp. ) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays) > Squaliformes (Bramble, sleeper and dogfish sharks) > Squalidae (Dogfish sharks)
Etymology: Squalus: Genus name from Latin 'squalus' meaning shark (Ref. 6885, 27436 ) ;   acanthias: Genus name from the Latin 'squalus' meaning shark; species name from the Greek 'akanthias' referring to the spines (Ref. 6885, 27436 ) .   More on author: Linnaeus .

Squalus suckleyi (Girard, 1855) has been resurected by Ebert et al. (2010: Ref. 85328 ) in the North Pacific where it replaces Squalus acanthias Linnaeus, 1758.

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Marine; brackish; benthopelagic; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243 ); depth range 0 - 1460 m (Ref. 26346 ), usually 50 - 300 m (Ref. 43939 ).   Temperate; 7°C - 15°C (Ref. 247 ); 81°N - 57°S, 82°W - 171°W (Ref. 247 )

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Western Atlantic: Greenland to Argentina; Eastern Atlantic: Iceland and and the Barents Sea to Western Sahara and the Canary Islands; Angola to South Africa. Indo-Pacific; the Mediterranean and Black Seas (Ref. 247 ) Reports from off New Guinea are doubtful (Ref. 6871 ). All records from North Pacific refer to Squalus suckleyi (Girard, 1855) (Ref. 85328 ). Appendix II (northern hemisphere populations) of the Bonn Convention (2009).

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: L m 81.4 , range 69 - 100 cm
Max length : 160 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 247 ); common length : 100.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. ); max. published weight: 9.1 kg (Ref. 11389 ); max. reported age: 75 years (Ref. 39247 )

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 2; Dorsal soft rays (total): 0; Anal spines : 0; Anal soft rays : 0; Vertebrae : 101 - 109. This moderately sized species is distinguished by the following set of characters: very slender body, abdomen width 7.2-9.2% TL; narrow head, width at mouth 7.9-10.2% TL; mouth width 1.7-2.2 times its horizontal prenarial length; moderately long snout, preoral length 2.2-2.5 times horizontal prenarial length, 8.5-9.8% TL; single-lobed anterior nasal flap; small dorsal fins, raked, first dorsal-fin height 1.1-1.3 times its inner margin length, second dorsal-fin height 0.7-0.9 times its inner margin length; origin of first dorsal-fin located just posterior to pectoral-fin free rear tips; exposed bases of dorsal-fin spines relatively narrow, 0.4-0.7% TL; short spine of first dorsal fin, exposed length 1.7-2.7% TL; pectoral-fin anterior margin 1.9-3.1 times its inner margin length; preventral caudal margin 1.9-2.6 times inner margin of pelvic fin; pale caudal fin with poorly demarcated, whitish margin, blackish caudal blotch at the apex of upper lobe, anterior margins of both lobes whitish in juveniles; dark caudal bar absent; dorsal and lateral surfaces of body bluish grey with an irregular array of moderately-large white spots; whitish ventrally; flank denticles tricuspid; monospondylous centra 41-45, precaudal centra 74-79, total centra 100-105 (Ref. 58446 ).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Possibly the most abundant living shark (Ref. 247 ). An inshore and offshore dogfish of the continental and insular shelf and upper slopes (Ref. 247 , 11230 ). Usually near the bottom, but also in midwater and at the surface (Ref. 26346 ); occurs mainly between 10-200 m depth (Ref. 247 ). Males and gravid females usually found shallower than non-gravid females. Tolerates brackish water, often found in enclosed bays and estuaries. Reported to enter freshwater (Ref. 11980 ) but cannot survive there for more than a few hours (Ref. 247 ). Highly migratory species, used to be observed in large foraging schools with up to thousands of individuals, usually segregated by size and /or sex, with schools of large gravid females preferentially targeted by fisheries. Their latitudinal (north-south) and depth-related (nearshore-offshore) movements appear to be correlated with their preferred temperature (Ref. 247 ). Tagging experiments showed that populations in the northern North Sea and northwest Scotland made winter migrations to off Norway and summer migrations to Scotland (Ref. 88880 , 88881 ). Transoceanic migrations recorded, but rare (Ref. 88864 ). Longevity in the northern Atlantic is about 35-50 years (Ref. 88882 ), but most live only 20-24 years (Ref. 88187 ). Growth is slow. At sexual maturity, males are 60-70 cm long, females 75-90 cm (Ref. 35388 ). Gestation period is 2 years (Ref. 36731 ). Ovoviviparous (Ref. 205 ). Feeds on a diversity of prey, ranging from comb jellyfish, squid, mackarel and herring to a wide array of benthic fishes, shrimps, crabs and even sea cucumbers (Ref. 93252 ). The only species of horned sharks that can inflict toxins with its tail. Detects weak electric fields generated by potential prey (Ref. 10311 ). Utilized for human consumption, liver oil, vitamins, sand paper, leather, fertilizer, etc. (Ref. 247 , 27436 ). Eaten fried, broiled, and baked (Ref. 9988 ).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Distinct pairing with embrace (Ref. 205 ). Ovoviviparous, with litters of 1 to 21 young (Ref. 247 , 88865 ). Mating probably occurs in winter. Gestation period of 18 to 24 months, longest known of all chondrichthyans (Ref. 26346 ). Size at birth 18-30 cm (Ref. 26346 ). In the northeast Atlantic, pups are born in winter, with size at birth about 26-28 cm (Ref. 88864 ). Sex ratio at birth is 1:1. Gravid females congregate in enclosed shallow bays to give birth (Ref. 247 ). The mother shark experiences a series of rhythmic contractions, just like in mammals, and the young are delivered head first. Larger older females have bigger litters with larger pups; a female with 100 cm TL carries on average 4 times as many embryos compared to a 70 cm female and the former have higher survival rates than those born to small females (Ref. 4856 , 88869 , 88883 ).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator : Compagno, Leonard J.V. | Collaborators

Compagno, L.J.V. , 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 4. Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Part 1 - Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(4/1):1-249. Rome, FAO. (Ref. 247 )

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 115185 )

  Vulnerable (VU)  (A2bd+3bd)

CITES (Ref. 115941 )

Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361 )

Appendix II: Migratory species conserved through agreements

Threat to humans

  Venomous (Ref. 4690 )

Human uses

Fisheries: commercial; gamefish: yes FAO(fisheries: production , species profile ; publication : search ) | FIRMS (Stock assessments) | FishSource | Sea Around Us

More information

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Food items
Food consumption
Common names
Egg development
Larval dynamics
Aquaculture profile
Allele frequencies
Mass conversion
Stamps, Coins Misc.
Swim. type
Gill area


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Internet sources

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Estimates of some properties based on models

Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969 ): 4.2 - 18.7, mean 9.9 (based on 4651 cells). Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805 ):  PD 50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high]. Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00288 (0.00236 - 0.00353), b=3.07 (3.01 - 3.13), in cm Total Length, based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245 ). Trophic Level (Ref. 69278 ):  4.4   ±0.4 se; Based on diet studies. Resilience (Ref. 69278 ):  Very Low, minimum population doubling time more than 14 years (rm=0.034; K=0.03-0.07; tm=10-30; tmax=75; Fec=1). Vulnerability (Ref. 59153 ):  High to very high vulnerability (68 of 100) . Price category (Ref. 80766 ):   Medium .

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