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Author: (Nichols, 1927)

Field Marks:
See diagnostic features and key to species.

Diagnostic Features:
Precaudal tail noticeably compressed at base. Snout moderately long and pointed, preoral length about 5 to 7% of total length; prenarial snout equal or greater than eye length; eyes virtually lateral on head, without prominent subocular ridges; mouth fairly large but short, very broadly arched, its width 6.2 to 9.1% of total length; labial furrows moderately long, not confined to mouth corners. Pelvic fins small, low, and angular; interspace between pelvic and anal bases much shorter than anal base; anal base short to long, 10 to 15% of total length, less than or slightly greater than interdorsal space, its origin varying from under midlength of interdorsal to just behind first dorsal insertion; no subcaudal crest of enlarged denticles on preventral caudal margin. A colour pattern of variegated dark saddled blotches on body and dark bands on caudal fin, saddles varying from well-defined and outlined with whitish to obscure, when present, usually less than 11 in number; usually additional dark markings on flanks; dorsal fins and caudal tip without black terminal marking; mouth lining dark. Monospondylous precaudal centra 33 to 39. Size small to moderate, adults up to about 40 cm.

Geographical Distribution:
Western North Atlantic: South Carolina to Florida, northern Gulf of Mexico, Cuba, Hispanola, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Lesser Antilles, and Caribbean coast from Belize to Colombia.

Habitat and Biology:
An abundant warm-temperate and tropical, deepwater bottom-dwelling shark of the western Atlantic upper continental and insular slopes on or near bottom at 292 to 732 m depth; rarely specimens occur over the edge of the Caribbean insular shelf in waters up to 142 m depth. WOater temperatures at capture sites were between about 4.6 to 11.1 C. This shark is irregularly distributed along the narrow band of slope it inhabits, sometimes occurring in hundreds and sometimes not at all in trawl hauls over suitable habitat. There is partial segregation by depth, adults but very few juveniles being found below 450 m but with mixed adults and juveniles in shoaler waters less than 450 m.

Mode of development uncertain; possibly oviparous in the Caribbean island subspecies G. a. antillensis, but possibly ovoviviparous in the continental G. a. arae.

Apparently eats mainly deepwater shrimp.

Maximum about 43 cm, adult males 27 to 36 cm, adult females, 26 to 43 cm.

Interest to Fisheries:
None at present.

Springer (1979) recognizes three subspecies of this species from adjacent areas: G. a. arae from south Carolina to Florida, northern Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean coast fromBelize to Nicaragua; G. a. antillensis from the northern slopes of Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and many of the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean southward to Martinique; and G. a. cadenati from Panama and Colombia. G. a. cadenati was formerly considered a full species (Springer, 1966), but later reduced to a subspecies of G. arae (see Springer, 1979).

Type material:
Holotype: American Museum of Natural History, New York, AMNH 8677, 159 mm, immature female. Type Locality: Off Miami Beach, Florida, in 366 m depth.

Roughtail catshark (Galeus arae)