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Characteristics, distribution and ecology
Taxonomische classification
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Author: (Voigt, 1832)

Field Marks:
Broad-headed, stoutbodied catsharks with greatly expanded anterior nasal flaps that reach mouth and cover, broad nasoral grooves, dorsolateral gill slits, variegated colour pattern with darkmargined dorsal saddles, dotted with small white spots.

Diagnostic Features:
First dorsal origin over or behind pelvic insertions. Colour pattern with striking dorsal saddles, bordered with conspicuous darker margins; saddles dotted with numerous light spots, mostly smaller or equal in size to spiracles.

Geographical Distribution:
Western Indian Ocean: South Africa (Western Cape Province to Natal).

Habitat and Biology:
A common shark of inshore and offshore temperate waters of the continental shelf, on or near the bottom, from the surfline to 130 m depth; commonly on sandy and rocky bottoms. The 'Cape' form of this species shows progressive submergence around the Cape from close inshore down to 15 m in the west to 40 to 130 m in the east.

Oviparous, with a single egg-case laid per oviduct. Size of egg-cases about 3.5 to 5 cm long and 1.5 to 3 cm wide.

Eats small bony fishes, crustaceans and cephalopods in about equal quantities.

Maximum 60 cm, males maturing between 42 and 51 cm and reaching 59 cm as adults; females maturing at about 41 cm or more and reaching 60 cm as adults; individuals from southwestern Cape Province may mature at a smaller size than those from northern Natal. Size at hatching about 10 cm.

Interest to Fisheries:
Limited, caught by surf anglers with rod and reel and by bottom trawlers, but apparently little-utilized.

Bass, D'Aubrey and Kistnasamy (1975) cited "Scyllium D'Edwards Cuvier, 1817" as the earliest name for this species, but reference to Cuvier (1817, also 1829) suggests that he did not propose a scientific name, but rather a vernacular ("sq. d'Edwards"). Bass, D'Aubrey and Kistnasamy note that there are two different forms of this species, the "Cape" and "Natal" types, that might be geographic variants or two species. These differ in coloration and in habitat, the "Cape" type occurring in deeper cold water in the northeast part of its range, but further northeast the "Natal" type occurs close inshore in warm water at the surfline to 30 m.

Type material:
Holotype: ?. Type Locality: South Africa.

Puffadder shyshark (Haploblepharus edwardsii)