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Hound Sharks. Triakidae species.

hound shark triakidae Gummy Shark (Mustelus antarcticus)

All images and text on this page are copyright protected: © 2010 Kelvin Aitken.
All rights reserved. Students may use this information for personal research only. Not for commercial use.

Order: Carcharhiniformes
Family: Triakidae
Genus: Furgaleus, Galeorhinus, Gogolia, Hemitriakis, Hypogaleus, Iago, Mustelus, Scylliogaleus,Triakis
Taxonomic name (of species shown): Mustelus antarcticus

Most members of the hound shark group are noted primarily for their commercial value. This small harmless family bears most of the features of the more renowned whaler sharks but they lack a notch in the front of the tail, called a precaudal pit, and their internal anatomy is different in having an intestine shaped like a spiral corkscrew, called a spiral intestinal valve, as apposed to a scroll valve intestine which is shaped like a rolled up newspaper. Size varies from 800 cm to 1700 cm with the main commercial species occuring in inshore southern Australian waters and the lesser known species found in deeper offshore tropical water. All have a varied diet of small fish, squid, octopus and crabs.

The two most familiar hound shark species are the School Shark and the Gummy Shark. Both species make long migrations across the southern coastline with tagged gummy sharks being tracked from Tasmania to Western Australia during the summer breeding season.

School Shark

When adult, the slender130-180 cm School Shark (Galeorhinus galeus) has a translucent nose and a beautiful large sculptured tail. Although found throughout southern Australia, these sharks are rarely seen by divers due to their timid nature: nearby fishermen may be pulling them in with no underwater sightings by the divers at all. School Sharks live for over 55 years, with females producing 15–50 pups every third year only after reaching breeding maturity at 10 years of age. These factors make this shark susceptible to overfishing and they have indeed become so.

Gummy Shark

The Gummy Shark (Mustelus antarcticus) has also been heavily fished and is sold as 'flake'. It lives for about 16–17 years, with females over the age of five giving birth to an average of 14 pups. Despite its name, the Gummy Shark does have small bluntly-pointed teeth which are ideal for crushing its food which includes small fish, crabs and cephalopods such as squid or octopus. While the Gummy and School Sharks are very similar in shape and size, the former has a pattern of small white spots over a bronze-grey back and a distinctive lateral line.

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