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Epaulette shark | by Erwin Kodiat
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Epaulette shark

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.

 

This species has a oronasal groove which connects the mouth to with the nostrils, small triangular teeth, and short nasal barbels (see image)

 

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

 

In Australia, the Epaulette Shark occurs from Shark Bay, Western Australia around the northern coastline of the continent south to at least Newcastle, and possibly to Sydney, New South Wales. It is a bottom-dwelling species which lives primarily in warm, shallow waters where it eats bottom-living invertebrates.

 

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.

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Taken on May 19, 2005