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Characteristics, distribution and ecology
Taxonomische classification
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Author: (Regan, 1921)

Field Marks:
A moderately large, stout catshark with no labial furrows, second dorsal much smaller than first, a simple colour pat- tern of obscure dark saddles, often obsolete, snout broadly rounded, anterior nasal flaps elongate, lobate, and not overlapping mouth posteriorly.

Diagnostic Features:
Snout broadly rounded-angular in dorsoventral view, broad and short; anterior nasal flaps fairly elongate and lobate, not overlapping mouth posteriorly. Claspers moderately short and stout. Colour pattern of 7 light grey-brown saddles on a lighter, pale-grey brown background, these saddles obscure or absent in adults, pectorals dusky above, underside unspotted; fins without conspicuous light margins. A large species (see size below).

Geographical Distribution:
Western Indian Ocean: South Africa and Mozambique, doubtfully from Gulf of Aden.

Habitat and Biology:
A common warm-temperate and 3 subtropical offshore catshark on the continental shelf and uppermost slope at depths from 40 to 440 m, commonly on sand and; mud bottom (unlike C. ventriosum, which prefers rocky bottom and is appropriately spotted and mottled). As with other members r of the genus, this catshark can inflate itself when disturbed.

Oviparous, apparently laying one egg-case per oviduct. Immature individuals of this shark are common in trawl hauls off t Natal at 40 to 440 m depth, but adults are not, and egg-cases have yet to be found. This suggests that adults mostly live in deeper: water than these juveniles and lay eggs there, or are geographically displaced, perhaps off northern Mozambique.

These sharks eat a variety of bottom prey including mostly, crustaceans (lobsters and shrimp) and cephalopods, but also bony fishes and other elasmobranchs, taken on muddy or sandy bottom.

Size:
Maximum 106 cm; males adolescent at 70 to 75 cm, adult males to 89 cm; females immature at 71 cm or less, adult females 82 to 109 cm; size at hatching about 20 to 22 cm.

Interest to Fisheries:
Apparently none at present, although often taken by commercial bottom trawlers.

Remarks:
Bass, D'Aubrey and Kistnasamy (1975) cast doubt on the identity of C. sufflans specimens recorded from the Gulf of Aden (Norman, 1939), which include an adolescent male only 30 cm long. Nominal records of this species from Viet Nam (Fourmanoir and Nhu-Nhung, 1965) are apparently based on an undescribed swellshark usually termed C. umbratile but apparently not that species (see also Bass, D'Aubrey and Kistnasamy, 1975a).

Type material:
Holotype: British Museum Natural History, 750 mm. Type Locality: About 24 to 35 km off Unvoti River, Natal, South Africa in 220 to 238 m depth.

Balloon shark (Cephaloscyllium sufflans)