Animal Species:Epaulette Shark, Hemiscyllium ocellatum (Bonnaterre, 1788)

The Epaulette Shark is a slender species that has a large black ocellus (eye-like spot with a marginal ring) above the pectoral fin. It is a bottom-dwelling species which lives primarily in warm, shallow waters.

Standard Common Name

Epaulette Shark

Alternative Name/s

Blind Shark, Itar Shark

Identification

The Epaulette Shark is a slender species that has a large black ocellus (eye-like spot with a marginal ring) above the pectoral fin and widely spaced black spots on the body. It has two similar sized dorsal fins and an anal fin positioned just anterior to the tail.

The species has a oronasal groove which connects the mouth to with the nostrils, small triangular teeth, and short nasal barbels.

The Epaulette Shark is a member of the fish family Hemiscylliidae, collectively called the Longtail Carpet Sharks. In Australia, the family contains three species, the Epaulette Shark, the Speckled Carpet Shark, Hemiscyllium trispeculare and the Grey Carpet Shark, Chiloscyllium punctatum. An easy way to tell the difference between the Epaulette and Speckled Carpet Shark is the presence of small dark spots immediately behind the ocellus of the Speckled Carpet Shark. These spots are absent in the Epaulette Shark.

Size range

The species grows to just over 1 m in length.

Distribution

In Australia, the Epaulette Shark occurs from Shark Bay, Western Australia around the northern coastline of the continent and south on the east coast to at least Newcastle, and possibly to Sydney, New South Wales.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Hemiscyllium ocellatum

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Epaulette Shark specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?

Habitat

It is a bottom-dwelling species which lives primarily in warm, shallow marine waters.

Feeding and Diet

It eats bottom-living invertebrates.

Mating and reproduction

Males mature at around 60 cm in length. The Epaulette Shark is an oviparous (lays eggs) species. The eggs are about 10 cm long and 4 cm wide. They hatch after about 130 days. Young are around 15 cm in length when they hatch.

Classification

Species:
ocellatum
Genus:
Hemiscyllium
Family:
Hemiscylliidae
Order:
Orectolobiformes
Class:
Chondrichthyes
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  1. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO. Pp. 513, Pl. 1-84.
  2. Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 201.

 


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, Ichthyology, Epaulette Shark, Hemiscyllium ocellatum, Hemiscylliidae, Blind Shark, Itar Shark, slender body, black ocellus, black spots, bottom-dweller, shallow water, adult, marine, oronasal groove, small triangular teeth, short nasal barbels, dots/sots, speckles, > 1m, grey,