Creature Feature – Spiny Dogfish
This week’s featured creature is the Spiny Dogfish.
Dogfish sharks make up the second largest order (Squaliformes) of sharks at 119 species. The family is named ‘dogfish’ because of observations made by fishermen that many species chase down smaller fish in dog-like packs. Whilst the spiny dogfish is also known as the piked dogfish and rock salmon, the name ‘spiny’ is very fitting – they have sharp, venomous spines in the front of each dorsal fin.
Scientific Name: Squalus acanthius
Spiny Dogfish Fact File
Size: Individuals can reach 1.2m in length and weigh up to 9kg
Distribution: They can be found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans, mostly in the temperate and subarctic areas
Diet: Despite sharp spines, this species consumes its meals by biting down on prey with sharp teeth and a strong jaw. Prey can include herring, mackerel, and capelin, as well as crustaceans, squid, and jellyfish
Behaviour: Like all sharks, dogfish grow slowly and mature late in life. Females grow larger and mature later than males and are able to reproduce at age 12 years compared to males at age 6 years
IUCN Status: Vulnerable. Once the most abundant shark species in the world, populations have declined significantly. They are classified as vulnerable globally and critically endangered in the Northeast Atlantic. Stocks around Europe have decreased by at least 95%. This is a direct result of overfishing to supply northern Europe. Despite this, there are few conservation efforts in place