Creature Feature: Pyjama Catshark

Pyajama-shark-head-detail Don DeMaria Arkive

There’s an old fashioned phrase that people have used to describe someone or something that is really great: “That is the cat’s pajamas!” I don’t know if that phrase has anything to do with this week’s featured creature, but I would definitely say that in my opinion, the Pyjama Catshark is the cat’s pajamas!

Pyjama Catsharks (Poroderma africanum) are a beautifully patterned shark. They have stripes that extend, in various patterns, along their bodies. These patterns help the Pyjama Shark camouflage. Catsharks are relatively small species of shark, only reaching about 3 feet. Pyjama Catsharks are active at night but have been known to feed during the day in the shallow temperate coastal waters of Southern Africa.

Pyjama-shark-anterior-view Doug Perrine Arkive Much like the cats you find on land, the Pyjama Catshark is a sneaky hunter! You can find these little sharks lying in wait among a collection of squid egg cases. They rest motionless among the cases and wait for the opportune time to strike, as the young squid hatch or as an adult swims near.  Catsharks are also known to feed on small fish, bivalves, and other small organisms.

We have talked about many different sharks this year and most of those sharks are ovoviviparous, which you will recall means that they give birth to live young, though not the same way humans do. The Pyjama Shark is a different case as are oviparous, which means they lay eggs. They will lay eggs all year long in groups and the pups hatch within 5 months. Catsharks populations are currently abundant but because their habitat is within a popular fishing zone, they are susceptible to threats of trawl fishing and line fishing.

Join us next week as we view another type of Catshark!

Edited by KC O’Shea
Photography: Doug Perrine and Don DeMaria courtesy of ARKIVE
Compagno, L.J.V. 2005. Poroderma africanum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 02 July 2015.


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