Caribbean roughshark

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Caribbean roughshark
Caribbean roughshark.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Subclass: Elasmobranchii
Order: Squaliformes
Family: Oxynotidae
Genus: Oxynotus
Species: O. caribbaeus
Binomial name
Oxynotus caribbaeus
Cervigón, 1961
Oxynotus caribbaeus distmap.png
Range of the Caribbean roughshark (in blue)

The Caribbean roughshark, Oxynotus caribbaeus, is a rough shark of the family Oxynotidae, found on the upper continental slopes of the Caribbean Sea, at depths of between 400 and 450 m (1312 and 1476 ft). It reaches a length of about 50 cm (20 in).

O. caribbaeus is thought to be a slow-moving predator of small benthic organisms, called benthos. Not much is known about the life of this species, however it is being observed in its natural environment lately. This species is an uncommon bycatch of bottom trawls, though there is insufficient information for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to assess its conservation status.[1]


Venezuelan biologist Dr. Fernando Cervigón founded this species of Oxynotus caribbaeus. This name was later finalized and accepted by the scientific community as the official name for the species. Cervigon published his findings of this specimen in 1961 in the scientific journal Estación de Investigaciones Marinas de Margarita, Fundación La Salle de Ciencias Naturales.[2]


O. caribbaeus is a small shark found in the upper continental slope of Venezuela is very distinguishable from other Oxynotus species. Adult males reach a max size of 50 cm (1.7 ft) in length and the females are thought to grow even longer, although none have been examined. The Caribbean Roughshark has a short, blunt snout and head. This chubby looking shark looks nothing like the typical shark. It has two dorsal fins that help differentiate this shark from other Oxynotus species. Its first dorsal fin is inclined forward, is very long and thick and triangular in shape. The second dorsal fin is similar to the first, although it is not as long. However, as some other Oxynotus species, the Caribbean Roughshark does not have an anal fin. It has the typical shark coarse dermal denticles, however are atypically large for the size of the shark. It contains small circular spiracles at the dorsal base of its head. There are supraorbital ridges that are not expanded and do not form a knob in front of the spiracles. It has lanceolate upper teeth, containing 12 rows and lower bladelike teeth containing 12 rows.[2]

It has distinct color features that make it easily identifiable. On the head, body, and tail, it has light, greyish skin, patterned with dark bands and blotches. Although, it contains noticeably lighter color patterns on its pectoral fin and pelvic fins.[3]

Geographical habitat and ecology[edit]

O. caribbeaus is found in the western Atlantic Ocean, also near the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.[4] However, sightings of the Caribbean Roughshark have happened in the waters off of the Bahamas, Honduras, and Venezuela.[3]

It occupies water at a range of 400 and 450 m (1312 and 1476 ft). At that range, the water temperature is at about 10°C. This means it has a bathydemersal habitat or is a demersal fish.[4]


Little is known about this shark, but due to its unusual dentition, the spear-shaped upper teeth and blade-like lower teeth, it feeds on invertebrates and fishes found near the bottom of their habitat.[4]


This species of shark is an ovoviviparous species, meaning the embryos develop inside eggs, which are retained inside the mother’s body until the eggs are ready to hatch.[4] The sizes of these shark pups are thought to be 20 to 21 cm long, for both male and females examined.[2]

Threats and conservation[edit]

This species of shark lives in depths where deepwater fisheries operate, which can have a negative impact on a population of shark that is already uncommon and virtually unknown. Deepwater fisheries usually find O. caribbaeus in their catch as bycatch. As uncommon as it is found as a bycatch, it can still have a negative impact due to the little population observed in the inshore waters.[4]

Although this shark is a bycatch by offshore fisheries, it has little to no commercial uses. Though, when caught, the most probably use of O. caribbaeus is fishmeal or bait. Sometimes, it can be processed for oil or human consumption, by smoking and salting.[4]


  1. ^ "Oxynotus caribbaeus." (Caribbean Roughshark). N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2013. <>.
  2. ^ a b c Cervigón, M. F. 1961. Una nueva especie de Oxynotus de las costas de Venezuela. Estación de Investigaciones Marinas de Margarita, Fundación La Salle de Ciencias Naturales, Contribución 3:1–10
  3. ^ a b Rogers, Mike. "Best Shark eBook Ever!." Caribbean Roughshark. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2013. <>.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Hammock, Jennifer. "Oxynotus caribbaeus Cervigón, 1961 — Details." Encyclopedia of Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2013. <>.

External references[edit]