Epaulette Shark

Epaulette Shark  Hemiscyllium ocellatum

Type of Animal:
Carpet Shark

Reefs, tidal pools, coral flats, staghorn coral stands, sea floor, coastal waters, shallow inshore waters, small coral outcrops, not found deeper than 164 ft

W, N, & E coast of Australia, New Guinea coast, & coastal areas of Malaysia, Indonesia & Solomon Islands

Elongated body, short rounded snout, elevated oval eyes w/ a large spiracle below each eye, 5 pairs of small gill slits, slender caudal peduncle behind dorsal/anal fins where caudal fin attaches to body, broad rounded thickly muscled pectoral/pelvic fins, 2 similar sized dorsal fins, low anal fin just in front of caudal fin, adults beige to brownish above w/ widely spaced brown spots/subtle darker bands-very large black spot ringed in white behind each pectoral fin (epaulettes), juveniles have alternating light/dark bands over body/fins, dark band on tail

Crustaceans, worms, small bony fish

Status in Wild:

Breeding in aquariums, marine parks, & zoos


Additional Info:

Young: Pup
Group: Solitary
Male: 6 lbs
Female: 7 lbs
4 months 

Life Span:
20-25 years

Body Length:
Male: 1.9 ft
Female: 2.1 ft
Young: 8.3 in

Tail Length:
Male: 11.4 in
Female: 12.6 in
Young: 4.15 in

Main predators are other sharks & groupers.
They’re oviparous, laying eggs. Each egg case has 1-2 eggs. Females can produce up to 50 egg cases a year.
Usually nocturnal or crepuscular.
Sexually mature at 7 years old.
During courtship, male often grasps female’s pectoral fin/gill area w/ mouth. Females sometimes initiate by following/biting male.
Epaulette may act as eyespot for distracting/deterring predators.
Relies mostly on olfactory & electroreceptive senses to locate hidden prey.
Can suck prey into mouth by expanding muscular buccal cavity.
Teeth can be depressed to form flat surface for crushing hard-shelled prey.

Fun Fact(s):
Parthenogenesis (virgin birth) documented on rare occasions & females can store male sperm for up to 3 years.
If one were to want a pet shark, this species may be best option. However, they’re not for novice owners.
These & other members of genus Hemiscyllium also called walking sharks, having been seen using pectoral/pelvic fins to walk on land/exposed areas when needed & using them to “walk” along sea floor in undulating crawling motion.
Have ability to turn off/slow enough body functions to survive 3-6 hours w/ none to very little oxygen. They can slow heart rate/breathing & gradually limit blood flow to brain.
These sharks are quite docile & easily approached.

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