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Longtailed Carpetsharks. Hemiscylliidae species.
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Genus: Chiloscyllium & Hemiscyllium
Taxonomic name (of species shown above): Chiloscyllium punctatum
This family of slender sharks contain the many species of Epaulette Sharks
and the Brown Banded Bamboo Shark (Chiloscyllium punctatum). The Brown Banded Bamboo Shark is a
tropical species found across the northern coast of Australia and the
Indo-Pacific north to Japan and west to the east coast of India. Its common
name comes from the juvenile's pattern of dark chocolate brown bands on
a cream body; these blend and fade to a uniform grey or brown in adulthood.
When the young hatch from their eggs they are about 17 cm long but they
grow to a metre or more. Their bodies are slender with broad paddle-shaped
pectoral fins that are used to wedge themselves into crevices to avoid
predators. This shark is often confused with the Nurse or Blind Shark
but it can be easily distinguished by the conspicuous white edges to its
While the Brown Banded Bamboo Shark may occur at depths as great as 90
m, it is far more common in shallow reef areas where it feeds on invertebrates,
such as crabs and shelled molluscs, as well as small fish.. This shark
has the ability to live for extended periods out of water. This is possibly
in response to its tendency to become stranded in rock pools at low tide.
The common name for the Epaulette Shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum) comes
from the large dark spot that develops over each pectoral fin ofthe adults,
much like the epaulette shoulder patches on a military uniform. Juveniles
have dark 'saddles' on the back which fade as the speckled adult coloration
takes over. Epaulette Sharks are egg-layers with juveniles 15 cm long
growing to an adult size of one metre. The distinctive colour pattern
easily distinguishes this shark from other similar-shaped carpet sharks.
Epaulette Sharks are commonly found in tropical Australian waters and
are the most accessible of all sharks for reef waders and snorkelers.
During the day they hide under ledges and large sections of coral rubble,
at times in just a few inches of water. During the night they can be found
in the shallows foraging for small invertebrates. This shark is harmless
and will happily go about its business among waders if not harassed.