Orange Spotted Catshark, Asymbolus rubiginosus Last, Gomon & Gledhill 1999

Other Names: Rusty Catshark, Rustyspotted Catshark, Spotted Catshark

An Orange Spotted Catshark, Asymbolus rubiginosus, at Tathra, New South Wales, September 2018. Source: rayvran / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Asymbolus rubiginosus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Jul 2024,

Orange Spotted Catshark, Asymbolus rubiginosus Last, Gomon & Gledhill 1999

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Vertebrae (precaudal) 86, (total) 128-142.
Body elongate; caudal peduncle without keels or precaudal pits. Head moderately flattened; snout short (length to mouth about 4-6% TL) tip rounded; nostrils close to mouth but not connected to it by groove, with broad outer nasal flap covering posterior nasal aperture but not reaching lips, distance between inner corners of nostrils just less than 2% TL; eyes large, oval; spiracles small; mouth broad (width 2.3-3.4 times its height); labial furrows short, approximately equal in length, the lower extending 30-39% of distance to jaw symphasis;  teeth similar in both jaws, small, with a large central cusp and one or two smaller cusps on each side; five gill slits, last above pectoral fin. 
Denticles on body fine, slightly rough to touch.  
Two dorsal fins, outer corner of each rather angular, origin of first over or just behind ventral-fin axil, height of first dorsal fin 80-94% length of its base, second dorsal origin over posterior third of anal-fin base, hind margin of second slightly concave near base with small but detectable lobe on inner corner;  interdorsal space 2.4-2.9 times length of first dorsal base; vertical height of anal fin 3.0-5.1% TL, its base 1.9-2.3 times base of first dorsal; distance between bases of anal and caudal fins 9--12% TL; caudal fin heterocercal, moderately broad, broadest anteriorly, with subterminal notch, width midway between lower angle and notch 2.0-2.3 times length from angle to notch, lower lobe produced into peak at angle, posteroventral margin usually concave. Pectoral fins broad, with angular outer corner, hind margin straight to slightly concave. Pelvic fins of males not joined directly by fusion of their inner margins, but connected by membrane forming partial apron beneath claspers; claspers of adult males extending less than half their length past tips of pelvic fins.    Reaches a length of 90 cm.  


Light brown above with faint, slightly darker saddle-like blotches and numerous dark rusty spots, those on nape generally equal to or slightly smaller than spiracle, spots concentrated on blotches, those in predorsal region numerous, widely scattered, not in recognisable line on dorsal midline; ventral surface pale, without spots; upper surface of pectoral fins usually with more than three spots.


Its diet consists largely of cephalopods and crustaceans. 


Females mature from 410 mm TL, and males mature from 405 mm TL. The reproductive mode is single oviparous (females carry a single one egg case in each uterus at a time), and the species appears to be reproductively active year-round.


Although not targeted commercially, the species is taken as bycatch in demersal trawl fisheries throughout its range. It is a common component of the discarded bycatch of the deepwater component of the eastern king prawn sector of the Queensland East Coast Trawl Fishery in the north, and may also occur as bycatch in the New South Wales Ocean Prawn Trawl Fishery. It is also a discarded bycatch of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery.


The specific name is from the Latin "rubiginosus" in allusion to its rusty body coloration.

Species Citation

Asymbolus rubiginosus Last, Gomon & Gledhill 1999, CSIRO Marine Laboratory. Report 239: 27, fig. 3. Type locality: south of Gabo Island, Victoria [37°46.7´S, 149°55.2´E]. 


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Orange Spotted Catshark, Asymbolus rubiginosus Last, Gomon & Gledhill 1999


Compagno, L.J.V., Dando, M. & Fowler, S. 2005. A Field Guide to the Sharks of the World. London : Collins 368 pp. 

Courtney AJ, Haddy JA, Campbell DP, Roy DP, Tonks ML, Gaddes SW, et al. 2007. Bycatch weight, composition and preliminary estimates of the impact of bycatch reduction devices in Queensland's trawl fishery. Report to the Fisheries Research Development Corporation No. 2000/170, 2007.

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3) 

Kyne, P.M. & Bennett, M.B. 2015. Asymbolus rubiginosus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T41725A68609711. Downloaded on 29 October 2018.

Kyne, P.M. 2010. Chondrichthyans and the Queensland East Coast Trawl Fishery: Bycatch reduction, biology, conservation status and sustainability. PhD thesis, University of Queensland, Brisbane, 361 pp.  

Kyne, P., Courtney, A. & Bennett, M. 2011. Observations on the reproductive biology of three catsharks (Carcharhiniformes: Scyliorhinidae: Asymbolus and Figaro) from the continental shelf of southern Queensland, Australia. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 91(6): 1157–1164.
Last, P.R., Gomon, M.F. & Gledhill, D.C. 1999. Australian spotted catsharks of the genus Asymbolus (Carcharhiniformes: Scyliorhinidae). Part 2: Descriptions of three new dark-spotted species. pp. 19-35, figs 1-3 in Last, P.R. (ed.) Australian catsharks of the genus Asymbolus (Carcharhiniformes: Scyliorhinidae). CSIRO Marine Laboratory. Report 239: 1-35, 6 figs Ref available online

Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs. (as Asymbolus analis)

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls. (as Asymbolus sp. D)

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia 2, 550 pp. 

Rigby, C.L., White, W.T. & Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2016. Deepwater chondrichthyan bycatch of the Eastern King Prawn Fishery in the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. PLoS ONE 11(5): e0156036. Open access

Stevens, J.D. 1994. Families Carcharhinidae, Triakidae, Scyliorhinidae. pp. 120-138 figs 76-107 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs. (as Asymbolus sp. 2)

Walker, T.I. & Gason, A.S. 2007. Shark and other chondrichthyan byproduct and bycatch estimation in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery. Final report to Fisheries and Research Development Corporation Project No. 2001/007. July 2007. vi + 182 pp. Primary Industries Research Victoria, Queenscliff, Victoria.

White, W. 2008. Shark Families Heterodontidae to Pristiophoridae. pp. 32-100 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37015024

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern


Habitat:coastal, demersal

Max Size:55cm TL


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