Author: (Poey, 1861)
See key to species and diagnostic features.
Prenarial snout 3.3 to 4.5% of total length; upper labial furrows short, 1.3 to 2.3% of total length; total count of enlarged hyomandibular pores on both sides of head just behind mouth angle usually over 17 (9 to 19 on each side); teeth with serrations in adults; dentitions not differentiated between the sexes; total tooth rows usually 25/24. First dorsal origin usually over or slightly behind pectoral free rear tips; second dorsal origin ranging from above anal midbase to over rear fourth of its base; pectoral anterior margin usually longer than first dorsal length from origin to free rear tip; adpressed pectoral apex reaching behind first third of first dorsal base. Posterior monospondylous precaudal centra moderately enlarged; precaudal centra less numerous than caudals, precaudals 66 to 75, total counts 136 to 159. Size moderate, males maturing at over 58 cm total length. Colour brown or grey-brown above, white below, sometimes with white spots on sides and white-edged fins.
Western Atlantic: Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispanola, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Martinique, Honduras, Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay.
Habitat and Biology:
An abundant tropical littoral shark, usually found close inshore on the continental and insular shelves of the Caribbean and South America, but also found in offshore waters down to 500 m depth; one was caught near the surface in water 6036 m deep, well offshore, but this is exceptional.
Viviparous, with a yolk-sac placenta; number of young 2 to 6. Gestation period about 10 to 11 months; gives birth in the spring or early summer off southern Brazil.
Mostly eats small bony fishes, including wrasses, but also marine snails, squid and shrimp.
Maximum about 110 cm, males maturing at about 60 cm and reaching at least 85 cm, females maturing at about 80 cm and reaching at least 108 cm; size at birth about 31 to 39 cm.
Interest to Fisheries:
One of the commonest, if not the most common, inshore sharks where it occurs, and a regular object of artisanal and commercial fisheries. It is caught mainly with floating longlines but also bottom trawls (especially shrimp trawls), trammelnets, and probably hook-and-line. It is used salted or frozen for human consumption and processed into fishmeal.
It is uncertain whether this Caribbean, Central and South American species is separable from the northern R. terraenovae which is allopatric to it, or instead represents a southern and Caribbean subspecies of terraenovae or a clinal variant of it. Springer (1964) gives reasons for recognizing the species, which are tentatively followed here pending detailed studies of the terranovae-porosus group of Rhizoprionodon along the coasts of Central and South America.
Holotype: Unknown, 815 mm male (presumably adult) mentioned. Type Locality. Cuba.