Not just Shark
Pictures: Elasmodiver contains photos of sharks, skates, rays, and
chimaera's from around the world. Elasmodiver began as a simple web
based shark field guide to help divers find the best places to
encounter the different species of sharks and rays that live in
shallow water but it has slowly evolved into a much larger project
containing information on all aspects of shark diving and shark
There are now
more than 5000 shark pictures and sections on shark evolution,
biology, and conservation. There is a large library of reviewed
shark books, a constantly updated shark taxonomy page, a monster
list of shark links, and deeper in the site there are numerous
articles and stories about shark encounters. Elasmodiver is now so
difficult to check for updates, that new information and pictures
are listed on an Elasmodiver Updates Page that can be accessed here:
A small predominantly beige catshark covered
in network dark brown dusky lines that form saddles. Second dorsal fin
marginally smaller than first. First dorsal originates near free rear tip of
pelvic fins. Well developed lower labial furrows. Teeth tricuspid.
59cm maximum. 10
to 11cm at birth.
Rocky, sandy or muddy substrates on outer continental shelf. Remains on bottom
or close to it. From 73 to 754 metres.
and distribution: Northwest
Atlantic Ocean. From New England to Florida and Gulf of Mexico. Isolated
groups of chain catsharks in deeper reaches of the Caribbean Sea.
dogfish remains motionless on the substrate for much of the time. Known
swallow pebbles, perhaps for ballast.
The chain catshark's egg cases are laid in pairs every 8-15 days (figure based
on study of captive animals). The female swims around substrate monumentation
such as coral
until the egg capsule tendrils are securely fastened. 44 to 52 eggs may be laid during
each breading season. Egg capsules are vaguely rectangular ovoids measuring
2.7cm x 6.5cm.
Rhode Island. Special thanks to Joe Romeiro for his assistance in filming this
The chain catshark's unique pattern of fine dark lines rather than spots make
misidentification unlikely. Other species that occur in the chain catshark's
southern range include the Antilles catshark Galeus antillensis (large
dark blotches on back), Roughtail catshark Galeus arae (similar to
G.antillensis), Longfin sawtail catshark G.cadenati (joined brown
saddles along back), Boa catshark Scyliorhinus boa (dusky saddles
fringed in small dark spots), White saddled catshark S.hesperius (dark
saddles containing white spots), Blotched catshark S.meadi (joined dusky
saddles along back), Dwarf catshark S.torrei (dark and light saddles
covered in fine white spots) and the Cuban ribbontail catshark Eridacnis
barbouri (a thin bodied shark with a variegated tail). The chain catshark
also shares some of its range with various abyssal catsharks (apristurus
species) but these are generally dark bodied and live in deeper water.
Reaction to divers:
Technical deep divers that encounter these sharks while wreck diving report
that they are sluggish and fairly easy to approach.
logistics: Because the chain
inhabits depths beyond the range of recreational scuba divers it is rarely
encountered or photographed. Technical divers that dive the deep wrecks of
Virginia and the Carolinas sometimes encounter many of these sharks perched on
wrecks below the 80 meter mark.
If you have encountered chain
catsharks in the wild please email elasmodiver.
Diving locations submitted by
Many thanks to Cyndi Blanchard
for the following info:
My husband and I are technical divers based
in Frederick, MD. We make several trips a year to dive the deep (200 ft
+) wrecks off Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, most often between July
and September, and have seen chain catsharks on several of these
wrecks. Here is a list of our sightings to date, with wrecks, locations,
depths and dates.
4 August 2008: Wreck of Merida, 37
23.592N 74 40.714W (about 80 miles WNW of Virginia Beach), depth
210fsw. This wreck was literally covered with many hundreds of chain
catsharks, maybe even a few thousand. As we were descending onto the
wreck, the markings on the backs of the sharks made it look as if the
wreck were covered in netting. This wreck has less than 10 feet of
relief, so the sharks resting on it were at a depth of about 205fsw. The
sharks were very sluggish and would usually allow us to approach within
about one foot, at which point they would lazily pick themselves up,
swim a couple of feet away and settle back down on the wreck again.
Other divers in our group reported being able to gently push them aside,
and one diver said he carefully picked one up by hand with little
reaction from the shark.
10 August 2009: Wreck of Bow Mariner,
37 52.8N 74 15.3W (about 50 miles east of Chincoteague), depth 255fsw.
Saw several chain catsharks on the main deck at approximately
190-195fsw. They were slow-moving and allowed us to approach closely
without swimming away. Their sizes ranged from roughly 8 inches to 18
inches in length.
17 August 2009: Wreck of Lucy Neff,
depth 196fsw. Do not have coordinates, but wreck is south of Indian
River Inlet, Delaware and about 20 miles east of Fenwick Island. Saw 2
chain catsharks at approx. 192fsw on this wreck, which is that of a
wooden steamer that sank in 1915 and, with the exception of the steam
engine which still sits upright, now has only a few feet of structure
rising above the sea bottom. Sharks were about 15 inches long.