photo

Leopard Catsharks

Two Catsharks with a black background
Smithsonian Institution

These gorgeous sharks are leopard catsharks (Poroderma pantherinum) found in the waters off of South Africa. Leopard catsharks get their name from their beautiful, widely variable skin patterns. There are three recognized marking configurations. Seen here is the typical “pantherinium” which is made up of rosettes and broken lines. The other two are considered extreme colorations of a gradient of spot sizes. On one end of the spectrum there is the “marleyi” pattern with its large round spots that was once thought to be a separate species. At the other end is the “salt and pepper” coloration that has dense packs of dots.

Tags: Sharks