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Author: (Gilchrist, 1914)

Field Marks:
A catshark with an extremely broad head, no labial furrows, nostrils separate from each pther and mouth, and without barbels or nasoral grooves, dorsolateral gill slits, dorsal fins equal-sized, first dorsal with origin about over rear end of pelvic bases, second dorsal base partly behind anal base, dorsal surface with dense covering of dark brown spots, underside of head with tiny dark dots, conspicuous white spot over pectoral insertion.

Diagnostic Features:
Anal base 32 times its height or less, usually shorter than interdorsal space. Second dorsal fin about as large as first. Denticles on back and top of head of uniform size (but see remarks below). Colour pattern variable but usually with very small, regular, closely spaced dark brown spots on yellow-brown or orange-brown ground colour of back giving more of a leopard-like appearance; also longitudinal or double-Vshaped markings on dorsal fins, lined with white, and white spots on sides of body that are especially prominent above pectoral insertions. A smaller species, adult males 28+cm, adult females 24+cm.

Geographical Distribution:
Western Indian Ocean: South Africa, Mozambique, possibly Tanzania (see remarks below). 4

Habitat and Biology:
A small, common bottom-dwelling 3 shark of deepish water of the uppermost continental slopes off Natal and southern Mozambique, but also recorded from Cape of Good: Hope and Tanzania (Zanzibar). Off Natal, females are far outnumbered by males, but not off southern Mozambique, indicating t partial sexual segregation. Development oviparous, with one eggcase being laid per oviduct at a time. Eats small bony fishes, crustaceans and cephalopods.

Maximum about 34 cm; male adolescent 24 cm, adult males 29 to 34 cm; females immature at 20 cm, adolescent at 22 to:23 cm and adult at 24 to 26 cm. The adult males of this species are considerably larger than females in this species and H. regani,: something unusual among sharks.

Interest to Fisheries:
None at present, taken in bottom trawlers.

See Bass, D'Aubrey and Kistnasamy (1975a) for a discussion of the synonymy of this species. These writers note that although the holotype and three of the four paratypes of Scyliorhinus (Halaelurus) melanostiqma Norman, 1939, collected off Zanzibar and in the British Museum (Natural History) marine fish collection, are based on specimens of H. regani, the fourth paratype (BMNH 1939.5.24.5, a 210 mm female) is punctatus-like. This Zanzibar specimen differs from Natal Dunctatus in having a single narrow dark bar flanked by light lines on its dorsal fins (Natal specimens have twin V-marks on their dorsals). The writer was able to examine two additional specimens of this type from Tanzania, collected by G. Bianchi in1982, and can confirm the colour differences. Additionally, these sharks agree with H. regani and not H. punctatus in having enlarged denticles interspersed with normal smaller ones, but have the shorter anal fin, small size, and general colour pattern of H. punctatus. As suggested by Bass, D'Aubrey and Kistnasamy, these Tanzanian sharks may represent an additional, undescribed species or a geographic variant of H. punctatus, but unfortunately there are no specimens from the intermediate area, northern Mozambique, to determine if the Natal-southern Mozambique and Tanzanian punctatus types intergrade or not. Springer (1979) reported a similar specimen from Tanzania (a 210 mm immature male, possibly not saved).

Type material:
Holotype: ?. Type Locality: Cape Point, South Africa.

African spotted catshark (Holohalaelurus punctatus)