Common smoothhound

Common smoothhound, Mustelus mustelus

IUCN Red List assessment: Vulnerable

Pencil on paper

Artist: Alex Read

The common smoothhound is a species of hound-shark found in the east Atlantic ocean, from the British Isles down to South Africa. Adults are typically between eighty to one hundred and twenty centimetres in length. It is easily confused with similar species, in particular the starry smooth-hound, which can be distinguished by the white spots on its back.  Although not commonly, the smooth-hound is eaten in the UK, where several species of cartilaginous fish (fish with a skeleton made of cartilage instead of bone, like sharks and rays) are sold at chippies under the generic name ‘rock salmon’. Stocking status is unknown, and so although it may be more stable than similar species, it is still considered vulnerable.  The Latin name means ‘weasel’, possibly drawing a likeness between the long, slender bodies and slippery characters of the two. It is so nice they named it twice.

About the artist:

I was happy with the ‘three dimensional’ feel to this one, as it took a long time getting the subtle gradient right. I think sharks can look quite gormless (very unfair of me) but this one has a bit of a twinkle in its eye.

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