As I was swimming back up from the ocean floor yesterday, after observing the amazing Giant Isopod, I came across the Spiny Dogfish shark. Since I was already in my scuba gear, I figured I would take a couple of minutes to study the shark and report back to you for the final Wild Fact of the week. In all honesty, I already know quite a bit about this particular shark since I had to dissect one during my Chordate Anatomy Class in University. This would actually make sense since the Spiny Dogfish is thought to be the most researched shark in the world. Well, let’s find out a little more about this popular shark, shall we?
The Spiny Dogfish can be found around the globe including in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. These particular sharks prefer the warmer coastal waters, however, they have been known to frequent the freezing cold water around Antarctica. I guess even sharks like to partake in the annual polar dip event. The obvious features on the Spiny Dogfish are the two spikes found on their backs, which is probably why they are referred to as “Spiny”. Even more interesting is the fact that these spines are mildly poisonous and lend a helping hand (well, I guess they lend a helping spike) when the Spiny Dogfish has to defend against a vicious predator.
Wait a minute! Sharks have predators? Well they do but not as many as they would if they didn’t have those poisonous tips on their back. Since the Dogfish Shark is about 48-160 cm (19-63 inches) their only predators are larger sharks, killer whales and of course the largest predator of all, humans. This aggressive shark will feed on a variety of animals including fish, squid, crustaceans and monkey’s. Okay! That last one isn’t a real prey item but I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention.
Spiny Dogfish Fast Fact – The next time you hear a pregnant woman complain about having to carry a baby for nine months remind her that a Spiny Dogfish has a 2 year gestation period. I must warn you that you should probably be careful when suggesting for the pregnant woman to suck it up but it will make you look smart (well not smart enough to keep your mouth shut). The Spiny Dogfish will produce between 2 and 15 Dogfish pups. Hey, I just realized that their babies are called “pups” and they are DOGfish. I bet that is not a coincidence.
All right, I think I am getting a little giddy so I should probably end the fact here. Have a great weekend everyone and I will see you bright and early Monday morning.