Chain Catshark

The chain catshark, or chain dogfish, is a bioluminescent catshark found in the western Atlantic Ocean.

Chain Catshark image

Chain Catshark Scientific Classification

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Chondrichthyes
Order Carcharhiniformes
Family Scyliorhinidae
Genus Scyliorhinus
Scientific Name S. retifer


On average, male chain catsharks range from 15.6- 18.9 inches in length, while females are 15-18.5 inches long. These sharks have slender, wedge-shaped bodies, with a blunt snout and a thin tail. Their eyes are narrow and oval-shaped, and inside their mouth, one can see a set of triangular teeth with smooth edges. The upper jaw has 21-26 teeth, while the lower one has 20-22.

Chain Catshark pictureChain catsharks have flat denticles all over their body. The first dorsal fin is much lower down the shark’s back, opposite the pelvic fins. The second dorsal fin is roughly half the size of the first, and the two broad pectoral fins with rounded corners are the longest fins of this shark. The shark also has a subtriangular anal fin with straight edges and a small caudal fin with a square tip and a defined notch.

These sharks are tannish brown from above, with a chainlike pattern of brownish-black markings, while they are yellow from below. Their eyes are yellowish-green.

Where do they live

Map Of The Chain Catshark’s Habitat

Chain Catshark Habitat Map

Their range is relatively small – ranging throughout the western Atlantic Ocean from George’s Bank in Massachusetts in the USA to Barbados and Nicaragua, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

They live in subtropical waters, with temperatures ranging from 8.5-14 °C and depths of 118–2,461 ft. These sharks prefer structured habitats, such as rocky bottoms, as well as artificial artifacts such as cables and wires.



Their diet includes bony fish, crustaceans, polychaete worms, and squids. The preferred feeding pattern changes as they mature, with adults consuming more fish and invertebrates than the juveniles.

General Activity

They are sedentary and tend to remain motionless throughout the day but become significantly more active at night.


This shark is oviparous, laying two embryos inside transparent square egg cases with tendrils on each end. Mating occurs when the male and female swim together, after which the male bites her tail, wraps himself around their mate’s body, and then copulates.

The baby sharks emerge from the egg cases around 250 days later. They have little to no protection from predators and stay in inaccessible nurseries until they are old enough to fend for themselves. Sexual maturity is observed at around 8-9 years old.


These sharks are one of four that can generate their light, helping them camouflage themselves.

size of Chain CatsharkInteractions with humans

These sharks are not fished for human consumption but are kept in public aquariums worldwide due to their gentle nature. As per the IUCN, these sharks are classified as “Least Concern” or “LC”.

Recommended Blog Posts

Famous Sharks