Spiny Dogfish Facts
- The quite evocative term of Spiny Dogfish perfectly serves as one of the common names for one of the best known members of the Squalidae Family of sharks. The animal also remains known by several other alternate names, though.
- These include such equally distinctive names as the mud shark, the spurdog, and the piked dogfish, just to name a few of them. Among professional researchers, though, the amazing creature bears the scientific name of the Squalus acanthias.
- The first known official recognition of this impressive animal as a separate and distinct species occurred in the year 1758. That scientifically important event took place as a result of the efforts of the Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus.
- Unfortunately, its situation appears to be somewhat unstable. Due to its population status, as well as other factors, the IUCN currently lists it as Vulnerable. This lamentable status appears on the organization’s Red List of Threatened Species.
- The multiple and varied dangers facing the Spiny Dogfish continue to escalate, regrettably. Among these, over fishing continues to be the greatest threat to its continued existence, since the shark constitutes a commercially fished species.
- Other, newer factors also now pose serious, potentially terminal threats to the creature, though. Habitat loss, due to the actions of man threaten to greatly reduce its range. The ongoing effects of climate change also now pose a great danger for it.
Spiny Dogfish Physical Description
It bears noting that, while remarkably impressive in many ways, sheer size isn’t the strong suit of the amazing Spiny Dogfish. To the great surprise of many people, this marvel of Nature actually remains a very small example of its Order, the Squaliformes.
The species does, however, display a respectable degree of the physiological characteristic known as sexual dimorphism. In the case of this particular representative of its kind, this trait manifests itself in terms of size, with females being slightly greater in length.
Although exceptional individuals do exist, of course, adult males attain an average body length only equaling about 39 in (1 m). Mature females of this fascinating variety of shark, on the other hand, reach an average length of roughly 62.6 in (1.59 m).
Otherwise, both genders strongly resemble each other, presenting the same basic color pattern. Members of both sex display an overall grayish-brown shade, with the upper half of the body being a darker shade, while the underside remains much lighter in color.
It’s the presence of one particular feature, though, that gives the Spiny Dogfish its unique common name. That’s the existence of two very sharp spines that appear on the dorsal area, which the resourceful animal uses as a means of self-defense when threatened.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Chondrichthyes
- Order: Squaliformes
- Family: Squalidae
- Genus: Squalus
- Species: S. acanthias
Spiny Dogfish Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
To the great surprise of some people, the remarkable Spiny Dogfish inhabits a comparatively wide range of the oceans of the world. Populations of this fascinating fish inhabit many regions. This includes the Pacific, the Atlantic, and also portions of the Indian Ocean.
In whatever part of the world populations of the animal appear, however, all individuals maintain the same basic pattern of behavior regarding choice of habitat. More precisely, this animal evolved to live primarily as a bottom-dwelling species.
With that being said, specimens of this intriguing type of shark have been observed at depths of as much as 2,300 ft (700 m). The great majority of observed groupings or individuals nevertheless make their home at depths of between 160 – 490 ft (50 – 149 m).
Like all other known sharks, the Spiny Dogfish feeds entirely as an aggressive carnivore. Despite its comparatively small size, this animal is no exception to this. It actively hunts a wide variety of prey, including fish, squid, shrimp, crabs, and even jellyfish.
Though some specimens travel singly, the vast majority of members of this species appear in large packs, that can number in the thousands. After mating, live birth occurs an average of an astonishing 22 – 24 months later. A typical lifespan averages 35 – 54 years.