Crested Horn Shark, Heterodontus galeatus
A Crested Horn Shark at a depth of 23 m, off Macquarie Lighthouse, outside Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, February 2000. Image: Erik Schlögl
Erik Schlögl

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    galeatus
    Genus
    Heterodontus
    Family
    Heterodontidae
    Order
    Heterodontiformes
    Class
    Chondrichthyes
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 1.5 m in length. Males mature at about 60 cm in length. Females mature at about 70 cm.

The Crested Hornshark resembles the Port Jackson Shark, which has a harness-like pattern on the sides of the body and lower ridges above the eyes. It is found from shallow inshore waters, down to depths of around 90 m, feeding off echinoderms, crustaceans, molluscs and small fishes.



Identification

The Crested Hornshark has a blunt head with a prominent ridge above both eyes. It has two tall dorsal fins that are each preceded by a stout spine.

The species is grey to brown with large dark blotches. It resembles the Port Jackson Shark, which has a harness-like pattern on the sides of the body and lower ridges above the eyes.

Habitat

It has been recorded from shallow inshore waters, down to depths of around 90 m. The video below was taken by Peter Barfod.

Distribution

The Crested Hornshark is endemic to Australia, occurring from southern Queensland to southern New South Wales.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums.



Crested Horn Shark egg case
Egg case of a Crested Hornshark attached by its tendrils to seaweed, on Currarong Beach, New South Wales, December 2011. Image: Mark McGrouther
Australian Museum

Feeding and diet

Dietary items include echinoderms, crustaceans, molluscs and small fishes.

Life history cycle

Males mature at about 60 cm in length. Females mature at about 70 cm.

Breeding behaviours

It is an egg-laying (oviparous) species. In July and August, females lay dark brown spiraled egg cases that are usually seen attached by tendrils to seaweed. The egg cases of Port Jackson Sharks look similar but lack tendrils. Young Crested Hornsharks hatch from the egg case after about eight months at about 22 cm in length.

Danger to humans

It is not a dangerous species. The spine at the leading edge of the dorsal fins of juveniles may be sharp.

References

  1. Glover, C.J.M. in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  2. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  3. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  5. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994 Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO. Pp. 513.
  6. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Edition 2. CSIRO. Pp. 644, Pl. 1-91.