Smoothhound have a grey upper body and white underside. Mustelus asterias takes it name from the many white spots that are found on the upper part of its body, and the common smoothhound, Mustelus mustelus having none. The starry smoothhound is ovoviviparous (Method of animal reproduction in which fertilized eggs develop within the female and the embryo gains no nutritional substances from the female) with a gestation period of up to12 months.
Recorded litters for starry smoothhound have ranged between 10 and 35pups. Smoothhound are found in mainly shallow waters however they have been recorded at depths of up to 100m.
On Anglesey our most productive fishing is close inshore with depths of around 15m.
We have also had some successful fishing in depths of 80m. Preferring gravel and sand, smoothhound can also be found on more broken ground when on the hunt for food. The smoothhound feed on a host of crustaceans that include hermit, shore and edible crabs. In Holyhead, when crab has been hard to come by we have also had fairly good catches using large squid baits tipped with 3 or 4 good sized ragworm.
I’m sure many reading this will have caught a fair number of smoothhound, both starry and common, though have they really hooked a common hound? PhD researcher Ed Farrell, Dublin University, has been conducting a range of studies into the distribution of common smoothhound throughout Ireland and the UK. There is a common smoothhound species that can be found in the Mediterranean and South African seas, Ed however is almost certainly convinced that the common hound species Mustelus mustelus, does not make it into UK waters.