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Collared Carpet Sharks. Parascylliidae species.

Collared Carpet Shark (Parascyllium collare)

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Order: Orectolobiformes
Family: Parascylliidae
Genus: Cirrhoscyllium & Parascyllium
Species: collare
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 a club.

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.

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