Barbeled Houndshark, Leptocharias Smithii

The barbeled houndshark is found off the western coast of Africa from Mauritania to northern Angola, occasionally found in the Mediterranean Sea. It lives on the sea floor generally around river mouths where the bottom is muddy at depths up to 246 feet, and the water temperature is 68 – 81 °F.

The barbeled houndshark is a very active swimmer having a slender body, long tail, the eyes are oval and set horizontally on the head; behind each eye there is a tiny sphere. It has a long arched mouth with wrinkles extending from both jaws. A slender barbel in front of each nostril sets on the top of the snout.

The mouth contains 46 – 60 upper tooth rows and 43 – 54 lower tooth rows, with each tooth having three cusps, a narrow center cusp with a wider one on each side. Unlike other sharks, the barbeled houndshark male has extremely larger front teeth then the female.

This fish has two small dorsal fins, the first is set between the pectoral fin and the pelvic fin, and the second is set over the anal fin. The tail is smooth with the dorsal area being long and the anal area almost absent. The body of the barbeled houndshark is light grey with a white underside. The average length of the male is 30 inches, while the female is 32 inches.

This species feeds on a wide variety of bottom dwelling prey, including bony fish, crustaceans, skates, octopus, and sponges. Flowers, vegetable scraps, and feathers have been found in the stomach contents of a few barbeled houndshark.

Spawning occurs in late spring with internal fertilization. Once the yolk has been depleted from the yolk sac a placental connection is formed for the nourishment of the embryo. Around October the female will give birth to a litter of 7, called pups. Mating begins when the male reaches 22 – 24 inches in length, and the female is 20 – 23 inches long.

This species of shark is harmless to humans and is heavily fished causing it to be listed as near threatened on the endangered species list. The barbeled houndshark is used commercially, the meat is sold fresh, dried or smoked, and the skin is sold to make leather.

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Chondrichthyes

Subclass: Elasmobranchii

Order: Carcharhiniformes

Family: Leptocharias

Image Credit: Muller & Henle/Wikipedia