Animal Species:Elephantfish, Callorhinchus milii (Bory de Saint-Vincent, 1823)

The strange looking Elephantfish can grow to 1.2m in length. It has a hoe-shaped structure on the snout.

An Elephantfish trawled off Bermagui

Ken Graham © DPI Fisheries

Standard Common Name

Elephantfish

Alternative Name/s

Elephant Shark, Ghost Shark, Ghostshark, Plownose Chimaera, Reperepe, Silver Fish, White Fillets, Whitefish

Identification

The Elephantfish can be easily recognised by the hoe-shaped structure on the snout. Its head has a series of obvious sensory canals and pores. The pectoral fins are large, the first dorsal fin is preceded by a strong, serrated spine, and the caudal fin has a long upper lobe.

The body is silvery white, and sometimes has darker markings behind the eyes and on the fins.

Size range

It grows to 1.2m in length.

Distribution

The Elephantfish occurs off southern Australia and New Zealand.

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Elephantfish specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?

Habitat

It lives to depths of at least 200 m on the continental shelf

Other behaviours and adaptations

The Elephantfish has a skeleton made of cartilage. Sharks and rays also have cartilaginous skeletons. All three groups of fishes are classified in the class Chondrichthyes.

Life cycle

In spring, females migrate into coastal bays and estuaries to lay their egg cases in sand and muddy substrates. The distinctively-shaped egg cases are sometimes found washed ashore after storms. They are up to 25 cm long, 10 cm wide, and take up to eight months to hatch.

Economic/social impacts

It is caught commercially in New Zealand.

Classification

Species:
milii
Genus:
Callorhinchus
Family:
Callorhinchidae
Order:
Chimaeriformes
Class:
Chondrichthyes
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  1. Gorman, T.B.S. 1963. Biological and Economic Aspects of the Elephant Fish Callorhynchus milii Bory in Pegasus Bay and the Canterbury Bight. New Zealand Marine Department Fisheries Technical Report. 8. Pp. 54.
  2. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994 Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO. Pp. 513.
  3. McGrouther, M.A. 2000. Elephant Fish. in q&a. Nature Australia. 26(10): 82.
  4. Whitley, G.P. 1940. The fishes of Australia. Part I. The sharks, rays, devil-fish, and other primitive fishes of Australia and New Zealand. Royal Zoological Society N.S.W., Australian Zoological Handbook 1-280.

 


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Elephantfish, Callorhinchus milii, odd-shaped, hoe-shaped snout, silver, silvery-white, dark markings, > 1m, marine, adult, continental shelf, Elephant Shark, Ghost Shark, Ghostshark, Plownose Chimaera, Reperepe, Silver Fish, White Fillets, Whitefish,