Atlantic Weasel Sharks, Paragaleus pectoralis
Taxonomy Animalia Chordata Elasmobranchii Carcharhiniformes Hemigaleidae Paragaleus pectoralis
Description & Behavior
Atlantic weasel sharks, Paragaleus pectoralis (Garman, 1906), have moderately long snouts and large eyes with nictitating membranes that protect their eyes while hunting prey. They have a short, small mouth with small, serrated upper teeth and erect, cusped lower teeth. This species measures about 1.4 m as adults and are light gray or bronze in color with vertical yellow stripes.
This mid-sized shark species resembles requiem sharks with a slender body and 2 dorsal fins; the first is found in front of the pelvic fins and is larger than the second. The two pectoral fins are long and pointed, and the anal fin is smaller than the second dorsal fin. Atlantic weasel sharks have asymmetric caudal fins (tail fins) with a strong ventral lobe and precadual pits.
World Range & Habitat
The Atlantic weasel shark is a tropical species that inhabits depths up to 100 m. They are found in the eastern Atlantic from Cape Verde and Mauritania to northern Namibia and possibly as far north as Morocco. This species tends to inhabit both inshore and offshore waters around the continental shelf. This is the only weasel shark species in the eastern Atlantic.
Feeding Behavior (Ecology)
Atlantic weasel sharks are unique in that they are not opportunistic feeders. This species specializes in feeding primarily on cephalopods and occasionally on small bony fishes.
Atlantic weasel sharks, Paragaleus pectoralis, have a very low, minimum population doubling time of more than 14 years. This viviparous species gives birth to litters of 1-4 pups that measure 47 cm. Atlantic weasel sharks demonstrate reproductive behavior that includes a distinct pairing with embrace.
Viviparous: embryo develops inside the body of the female from which it gains nourishment.
Population doubling time: the number of years required for the population of a given species to double its present size, given the current rate of population growth, used to measure a specie's resilience to fishing pressure or other environmental stressors.
Conservation Status & Comments
Atlantic weasel sharks, Paragaleus pectoralis, are caught and sold commercially.
References & Further Research
Research Paragaleus pectoralis » Barcode of Life ~ BioOne ~ Biodiversity Heritage Library ~ CITES ~ Cornell Macaulay Library [audio / video] ~ Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) ~ ESA Online Journals ~ FishBase ~ Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department ~ GBIF ~ Google Scholar ~ ITIS ~ IUCN RedList (Threatened Status) ~ Marine Species Identification Portal ~ NCBI (PubMed, GenBank, etc.) ~ Ocean Biogeographic Information System ~ PLOS ~ SIRIS ~ Tree of Life Web Project ~ UNEP-WCMC Species Database ~ WoRMS
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