Most abundant shark
Last updated: June 1, 2018 at 3:05 am
Atlantic and Pacific spiny dogfishes (Squalus acanthias and Squalus suckleyi) — These small shark species (the larger female measures slightly more than 1.2 m / 4 ft) congregate in large schools of hundreds or thousands of individuals, much to the delight of divers in Canada and the United States. Total population was once measured in the billions, but overall numbers have been severely reduced due to commercial fishing (targeted and by-catch) over the last century. The spiny dogfish (combined populations of Atlantic and Pacific) is nonetheless still believed to be the most abundant shark in the world, with frequent observations by divers in British Columbia and the Eastern Seaboard of North America. The Atlantic spiny dogfish was declared overfished in the U.S. in 1998 and its numbers have been depleted by over 95% in Europe where it is sold in fish and chip shops under the names rock salmon and huss. The spiny dogfish is also harvested for its liver oil, vitamins, leather, sand paper, dog food, fertilizer and biological dissection and research. The spiny dogfish is also known as grayfish, picked dog fish, spiked dogfish, spring dogfish, and spur dog. Although very inquisitive and fearless when encountered, it poses no threat to divers and it is a thrill to observe alive and well underwater.
Spiny dogfish in the northern Pacific Ocean have recently been classified as a separate species, and are now known as the Pacific spiny dogfish, Squalus suckleyi.¹
The Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group. GEERG | Spiny dogfish.
Fordham, S., Fowler, S.L., Coelho, R.P., Goldman, K. & Francis, M.P. 2016. Squalus acanthias. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T91209505A2898271.Downloaded on 10 January 2018.
¹ Ebert, D. A.; White, W. T.; Goldman, K. J.; Compagno, L. J.; Daly-Engel, T. S. & Ward, R. D. (2010). “Resurrection and redescription of Squalus suckleyi (Girard, 1854) from the North Pacific, with comments on the Squalus acanthias subgroup (Squaliformes: Squalidae)”. Zootaxa. 2612: 22–40.
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Jeffrey Gallant is the Editor-in-Chief and Records Keeper of the Diving Almanac. He is also a contributing editor of DIVER Magazine, and the scientific director of the Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group (GEERG). Jeffrey started diving in 1982.