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Characteristics, distribution and ecology
Taxonomische classification
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Author: Bass et al., 1975

Field Marks:
A catshark with upturned knob on snout, narrow head, and barred and spotted coloration.

Diagnostic Features:
Snout tip pointed, upturned and knoblike; eyes in adults 11 to 15 times in distance from snout to first dorsal origin; anterior nasal flaps subtriangular; labial furrows rather short, essentially confined to mouth corners, but lowers extending at least 5 mm onto lower jaw; mouth fairly small, its w dth 6 to 7% of total length, its length about 2% of total length; papillae absent from much of pharynx except around jaws; gills directed dorsolaterad, elevated above level of mouth. Origin of first dorsal about over midbases of pelvic fins; second dorsal considerably larger than first, its origin over rear fourth or insertion of anal base; abdomen moderately short in adults, distance between pectoral and pelvic bases 1.1 to 1.4 times pectoral anterior margin; length of anal base about 0.9 to 1.5 times second dorsal base, much longer than distance between dorsal bases; Colour pale brown above, cream below, with about 26 bold vertical dark brown and narrow stripes, arranged in pairs and outlining obscure dusky saddles, with numerous small spots and vermiculate marks between saddles. Adults moderately large, to at least 56 cm.

Geographical Distribution:
Western Indian Ocean: South Africa and Mozambique.

Habitat and Biology:
A common warm-temperate to tropicalcatshark of the southern African continental shelf, from close inshore at the surf line to 290 m depth. Very few adult males and young of either sex have been taken off Natal, with most individuals caught there being gravid females, which may indicate strong geographic or bathymetric segregation.

Possibly oviparous, but with up to 8 egg-cases per oviduct, which are retained there until embryos are at an advanced stage of development. Eggs laid and kept in aquariaohatched in 23 to 36 days (in water with a temperature of 19 to 20 C). Gravid females commonly occur in the surf in Natal during late winter, but eggcases have not been found, leading one to suspect that normally egg-cases are retained in the oviducts until young hatch, and that eggs laid in aquaria may be premature. These sharks are readily kept in aquaria.

Feeds mostly on crustaceans, but also on bony fishes and cephalopods; in captivity it prefers crustacean meat to that of fishes or squid.

Size:
Maximum about 56 cm, adult males 48 to 56 cm, adult females 46 to 52 cm.

Interest to Fisheries:
None at present, caught in the surf in Natal by sports anglers with rod and reel.

Type material:
Holotype: Oceanographic Research Institute, Durban, South Africa, ORI 2935,now J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology, RUSI 6148, 500 mm adult female. Type Locality: Close inshore off Durban, South Africa (collected from shore with rod and reel).

Lined catshark (Halaelurus lineatus)