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Collared Carpet Sharks. Parascylliidae species.
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Genus: Cirrhoscyllium & Parascyllium
Taxonomic name (of species shown above): Parascyllium collare
Collared Carpet Sharks are slender bottom dwelling sharks with a small
mouth, two spineless rear set dorsal fins, both pelvic and anal fins and
usually a distinct pattern of spots.While superficially similar to Catsharks,
Collared's have a mouth well in front of their eyes and their nostrils
are connected to their mouth with a groove (the oronasal groove) partly
covered by a flap of skin called the internasal flap.
Varied Carpet Shark
Commonly found along the coasts of all southern States of Australia, the
Varied Carpet Shark (Parascyllium variolatum) is hard to confuse with
any other shark because of its distinctive black 'collar', which is covered
in a dense pattern of small white spots. Scattered across its base grey
to brown body colour are additional white spots and distinct sharply defined
black blotches on the apex of its dorsal fins. It is found by snorkelers
at shallow depths but it also occurs in much deeper water. It often snoozes
in the sheltered crevice of a rocky reef or twines itself amongst seagrasses.
The Varied Carpet Shark is more active at night, when it forages among
reesf and weeds for worms, crustaceans and molluscs, the shells of which
it crushes in its small mouth. Since it relies on camouflage, it is easy
to approach. When attacked or handled it thrashes about wildly, twisting
with surprising strength and throwing its small but solid head about like
The Rusty Carpet Shark (Parascyllium ferrugineum) differs from the Varied
Carpet Shark in its colour pattern. It lacks the pitch black collar with
the dense white spots. Instead it has a hazy or indistinct collar patch
matched by 5 or 6 hazy 'saddles' or broad bands down its body. It has
brown instead of white spots on the body and fins with a base colour of
grey or brown fading into a pale belly. Like the Varied Carpet Shark the
female Rusty Carpet Shark lays small eggs during winter and early spring
with tendrils that attach them to reef vegetation. Distribution is from
the eastern Victorian border around to Albany in Western Australia. It
can be found in the shallows by snorkelers but is normally encountered
by scuba divers at depths of more than 15 m on densely carpeted reefs
or, at times, on deep seagrass beds. All carpet sharks are harmless but
react violently when handled.
The Collared Carpet Shark (Parascyllium collare) is similar to the Rusty
Carpet Shark but has a distinct dark chocolate brown to black collar between
the eyes and pectoral fins. The collar is clear of white spots which differenciates
it from the Varied Carpet Shark.