Whitesaddled Catshark: Scyliorhinus hesperius

Family: Scyliorhinidae
Common name(s)

Whitesaddled Catshark, Western Catshark.


Scyliorhinus hesperius.




Slender body. Snout narrowly rounded. Mouth width greater than snout length. First dorsal origin posterior to pelvic fin insertion. Second dorsal fin anterior to anal fin insertion. First dorsal fin larger than second. Dorsal surface somewhat changeable but generally light grey/brown with 7-9 squarish, dark brown saddles. Saddles are filled with circular gaps that look like white spots but are actually just the background pigmentation. The light ‘spots’ may fuse to form irregular patterns. Cream coloured on flanks and ventrally.


Maximum length at least 47cm. Size at birth unknown. Jose Castro suggests a max size of 50-52cm based on its similarity to the chain catshark.

White-saddled Catshark, Scyliorhinus hesperius. A deepwater scyliorhinid shark from Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, and Colombia.

Conservation Status


The whitesaddled catshark occurs deeper than the operational depth of fisheries within its range, so it likely that this species is not impacted.


Tropical continental slope from 274-457m. Lack of larger specimens in trawls implies that adults inhabit steep or rough terrain not suitable for trawl fishing.


The whitesaddled catshark is confined to the Western Atlantic. Mostly on the Caribbean coast of Central America from Honduras to Colombia. However, I encountered three whitesaddled catsharks in Guatemala while accompanying gill netters in Quetzalito near Puerto Barrios. All were fished up in one gill net from approximately 200m. 1985 two specimens were captured in South Carolina during an experimental crab fishing survey suggesting that the range of Scyliorhinus hesperius may be much more widespread than initially thought.




Unknown. Probably consumes small benthic invertebrates.


Poorly known.

Reaction to divers

Not encountered by divers due to its depth range.

Diving logistics

Although it is too deep to encounter on scuba, it may be possible to see a whitesaddled catshark from the deepwater tourist submarine that is based on Curacao. During deep water surveys, the sub has been able to find (and retrieve) this species in the past.

Similar species

Chain Catshark Distinguished by its chain-like markings and lack of spots.