The Jaguar Shark (Bythaelurus Giddingsi), also known as the Jaguar Catshark and the Galápagos Catshark, is a type of shark from the Galapagos Islands. It is a black-brown colour and has light spots arranged asymmetrically on the top of its body. Other types of Catsharks’ lack spots, or their spots are arranged in a single line. Read on to learn more about this beautiful creature.
Jaguar Shark Description
Scientists conducting deep-sea diving research around the Galapagos Islands discovered this species of Catshark in the 90’s. The new species was identified from seven specimens during two diving trips in 1995 and 1998. This new species also belongs to a family known as ‘dogfish’ and is about 1.3 feet long, which is roughly the size of a typical domestic cat.
The Jaguar Shark is very easily distinguished as it has a blackish-brown on top with asymmetrical brighter spots, like the feline Jaguar. In other species of Catsharks, spots are absent or spots are located in just one line. The underside of the Jaguar Shark is a lighter colour.
It is approximately 30cm long, so therefore it is classed as a medium sized shark. The front of the muzzle is blunt and round. The Jaguar Sharks’ head is relatively short, measuring around 21 – 24 percent of the shark’s total length.
This Catshark mainly feeds on benthic invertebrates and smaller fish that they encounter along the bottom of the sea. They are classed as Oviparous and lay up to 18-20 egg cases.
Habitat & Distribution
The Jaguar Shark is found on flat sandy or muddy ocean floors or insular slopes up to 45 degrees around San Cristobal, Darwin, Marchena and Fernandina. They have also been found near lava boulders.
The Jaguar Shark is found in the eastern Pacific Ocean of the Galapagos Islands on the insular slopes of the island at the seabed between 1312 – 1969 feet. They prefer a tropical climate and are considered bathypelagic.
Jaguar Shark Conservation
Due to human activities such as commercial and recreational fishing, Jaguar Sharks (as well as many sharks in general) in many parts of the world are on the verge of extinction. Researchers estimate that 100 million sharks are killed every year. As an advanced predator, sharks are vital to maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. Due to the fact that this shark is only found in one place, researchers worry that it may be more susceptible to extinction pressure.