Speckled Epaulette Shark (Hemiscyllium trispeculare)


This species of Longtailed Carpetshark (Hemiscyllidae) also known as the Speckled Epaulette Shark is endemic to Northern Australia and can be found in shallow waters off the continental shelf from Queensland to Ningaloo.

They attain a length of 31 inches and are harmless to humans. Diet includes shrimp, small fish, crabs, cuttlefish, and mussels.

This species is oviparous, meaning that females lay eggs which continue to develop before they hatch. Females will look for a suitable location to deposit their eggs out of reach from predators.

To deposit the egg, she will find a pile of rocks and swim vertically as she wedges her head under the rock. She then will propel her body under the rock and use its leverage to help push the egg out of her cloaca.

I have hatched these Epaulette eggs in 133 days at 78 farenheit.

Stages of embryonic development are illustrated below from the first day to 120 days.

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The male’s claspers are already visible as soon as the neonates hatch.

I have noted three stages of mating. The first stage can last for hours as the male will slowly approach the female and rest beside her. It will approach one small step at a time. If he acts too quickly, the female will retreat into a cave. If inclined, the female will turn her pectoral fin facing her lower side to the male and they will swim as a pair.

The male will bite the female’s pectoral or anal fin as they spin into position.

The male Epaulette will insert one clasper into the female’s cloaca as he continues to hold her pectoral fin. The two sharks will remain in this position nearly motionless for up to a minute before they break apart and go separate ways.

Finally, a beautiful little Epaulette emerges from its egg case to take its first steps into the world.

Several weeks after hatching the speckled Epaulette pattern begins to develop more predominantly as is seen in the adults.

Adult female dentition
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Papuan Epaulette Shark (Hemiscyllium hallstromi)

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First described by Whitley, 1967, it was named after E. Hallstrom, the former director of Taronga Zoo Park. It is endemic to a small coastal area off Southern Papua New Guinea, around Port Moresby. It can be found inhibiting intertidal pools and shallow reefs and can be distinguished from all other Epaulette sharks quite simply by having the largest black to dark brown The predominant black spot above the pectoral fin also has a white surround ring. The black spots are a distinguishable feature from the time the sharks are newly born neonates to adulthood. All spots are equal or larger then that of H. ocellatum, with spots as large as the black ring above pectoral fins. The dorsal side is tan with faint bands that fade with adulthood and are pale ventrally.
This species is reported to hatch at 19cm, with first born in Taronga Zoo Park Aquarium in 1967. The first breeding established in North America was by D.Wood, Plattsmouth, NE.
H. hallstromi is oviparous like other members of the Hemiscylliidae family laying eggs in pairs.
I have found them to be very aggressive feeders and they have never rejected any food offered. I should also point out that my male would also eat shark eggs.
Its narrow distribution and location could make it susceptible to overfishing and effects of pollution.






Whitespotted Bamboo (Chiloscyllium plagiosum)

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Described by Bennett, 1830, the Whitespotted Bamboo has one of the broadest distributions for a benthic shark. It is a found as far north as Japan, through the Indo West-Pacific to Indonesia. It reached a maximum length of 83 cm and can be distinguished from Chiloscyllium punctatum with overlapping distribution by its numerous light and dark spots and dark bands.
It is an oviparious species first attaining maturity between 50-63cm. Readily breeding in captivity, they remain the most commonly exhibited shark species in public aquariums to date.
Here my specimen can be seen displaying a form of lack of pigmentation.
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