Tope (Galeorhinus galeus)
Big rod-caught tope can weigh 20 Kg (46 lbs) or more. The average tope weighs around 11.33 Kg (25 lbs).
ALSO KNOWN AS
Tope Shark, School Shark and Miller’s Dog
The tope is a member of the shark family, and you can tell! It has a streamlined body with an elongated snout, a large mouth with two rows of small, sharp teeth. It has two dorsal fins, with the first being triangular in shape and located towards the end of the pectoral fins; the second dorsal fin is much smaller, with a similar shape to the first and is found above the anal fin. The tope has a grey/brown back with a white underbelly and rough skin. It has a distinctive notched tail and large, powerful pectoral fins.
Warning: Beware of the tope’s sharp teeth; it is a shark after all!
Smoothhound (Mustelus mustelus)
Starry Smoothhound (Mustelus asterias)
Big rod-caught Smoothhounds and Starry Smoothhounds can both weigh 9.10 Kg (20 lbs) or more. The average Smoothhound and Starry Smoothhound weigh about 4.50 Kg (10 lbs).
ALSO KNOWN AS
The smoothhound is also known as a common smoothhound or a gummy shark.
The smoothhound is actually a member of the shark family, as such it has two dorsal fins with the one closest to the head being large whilst the second is fairly small. It has two large pectoral fins and a small anal fin. As with many other sharks, the smoothhound has a pointed snout with prominent eyes. The smoothhound has a grey-brown back with light grey sides and a white belly. It also has noticeable gill slits on both sides and a notched tail. In addition, instead of the sharp, flesh-tearing teeth you think of when you think of sharks, the smoothhound has short, close-set, slab-like grinders due to its diet.
The starry smoothhound matches the same description as the common smoothhound (Mustelus mustelus) but it also has a scattering of small white spots on its back, this is the primary aspect which differentiates the two. To make things really complicated though, some common smoothhounds (Mustelus mustelus) can have faded spots which often lead to misidentification.
Both of these Smoothhounds can also be mistaken for topes, another shark species which the has a similar appearance. Unlike the tope, smoothhounds are less streamlines, the first dorsal fin is closer to the head and, as mentioned earlier, smoothhounds have short, close-set, slab-like grinders unlike the topes long, sharp teeth.
Lesser-spotted Dogfish (Scyliorhinus canicula)
Big rod-caught lesser spotted dogfish can weigh 1.6 Kg (3½ lbs) or more. The average lesser spotted dogfish weighs around 1 Kg (2¼ lbs).
ALSO KNOWN AS
Lesser-Spotted Dogfish and Rockfish
The lesser spotted dogfish has a shark-like appearance, it has a long, slender body with a blunt head, its nostrils are found on the underside of its snout and are linked to the mouth via a rounded groove. The lesser spotted dogfish’s body is gray-brown and has dark brown spots, it has a light grey belly and its two dorsal fins are found towards the tail-end of its body. It also has prominent gill slits on both sides and very rough skin.
Warning: The lesser spotted dogfish’s skin is very rough, don’t let these “dogs” wrap their bodys around unprotected arms. A thick leather glove or gauntlet will provide welcome protection.