Common name: Lesser spotted dogfish
Latin name: Scyliorhinus canicula
Record weight: One of the few species where the shore record is larger than the boat caught best. The current boat record is 4lb 6oz 8 drams, whilst the shore best is 4lb 15oz 3 drams. Most fish are much smaller than this though and a fish over two pounds is a good size.
Distribution: Most common in the waters of Southern Great Britain and the Channel, although they do reach from the Hebrides to the Mediterranean. Lesser spotted dogfish (LSD) are amongst the most common bottom dwelling fish in many areas and can be a real nuisance when trying to catch more desirable species. LSD are found in depths ranging from 2m to over 200m, but are most common in water from 20m to 75m, normally over a clean sand sea bed.
Features: The LSD is one of only three species of dogfish found around the British coast. The black mouth dogfish, as the name suggests, can be easily distinguished by the black inside of it's mouth. The black mouth is also very rare and rarely found in water under 100m deep. The greater spotted dogfish, or nursehound is more similar, but there is an easy way to tell the two species apart. Look closely at the underside of the fish's head. If there is a single flap of skin between the nostrils and the mouth then the fish is a LSD. If there are two lobed flaps then the fish is a greater spotted dogfish.
Diet: Dogfish are mainly scavengers, relying upon their exceptional sense of smell to locate prey. Although they can take live fish, they are not designed to chase down fast moving animals. The bulk of the LSD's diet is made up of molluscs, crustaceans and slow moving bottom-dwelling fish.
Spawning: Although the fish gather and mate in the Autumn, dogfish adopt a very different reproductive strategy than most other marine fish. Rather than produce tens of thousands of tiny eggs, dogfish produce a few dozen much larger eggs. Everything in the dogfish's reproductive strategy is designed to minimise waste. When the fish mate, the male places a parcel of sperm inside the female. The eggs then develop for several weeks inside the female before egg laying can take place. When the eggs are ready, the female deposits each egg in turn on the sea bed, generally in areas of broken ground, where the eggs can be anchored to rocks. Each egg is enclosed in a capsule around 12cm in length, commonly known as a mermaid's purse. Inside the capsule, the tiny larval fish has enough food to sustain it through it's five to eleven month development. After this time, the young dogfish, which is already fully formed and around 14cm in length, leaves the egg and is able to fend for itself. By adopting this strategy the dogfish maximises the chances of each egg surviving and producing a new individual. This is obviously a successful strategy as in many parts of the British Isles LSD's appear to almost carpet the sea bed!