NAFC Marine Centre
University of the Highlands and Islands
14. January 2016
A hound shark caught near Shetland in December had been tagged off the Dutch coast in 2013
The starry smooth-hound (Mustelus asterias) was caught by the Shetland fishing boat Arcturus (skipper Bobby Sandison) while she was fishing in the East by South Hole, about 40 miles east of Lerwick. The crew noticed that the fish was tagged and brought it in to the NAFC Marine Centre.
Information on the tag led NAFC staff to the Dutch sport-fishing organisation Sportvisserij Nederland which revealed that the shark had been caught and tagged by the sea-angling boat Big Marlin off the coast of Zeeland in the south of Holland on 20th July 2013. In the 876 days that had elapsed before it was caught by the Arcturus the smooth-hound had travelled at least 550 miles and grown from 59 cm to 85 cm (full-grown smooth-hounds reach about 140 cm).
Mr Niels Brevé of Sportvisserij Nederland reported that of about 3,000 starry smooth-hounds tagged off the Dutch coast 125 have been recaptured, mostly in the southern North Sea. Only two other tagged smooth-hounds have been caught from the northern North Sea; like that caught by the Arcturus both were male. Others have been caught as far afield as the Bay of Biscay.
Starry smooth-hounds are a shallow water shark species, which favours sandy and shingly sea-beds in relatively shallow water (usually less than 100 metres deep). They occur from Norway to West Africa including the waters around the UK, and in the Mediterranean. Although not common, they are regularly caught around Shetland.