Brownbanded bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium punctatum)

Also known as: Brown-spotted catshark, grey carpet shark, spotted catshark
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassChondrichthyes
OrderOrectolobiformes
FamilyHemiscylliidae
GenusChiloscyllium (1)
SizeMax length: 105 cm (2)

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The brownbanded bamboo shark is an extremely hardy species, with a slender body and a thick, elongate tail. While the adults are light brown and lack an obvious colour pattern, juveniles are distinctly marked with bold dark transverse bands and a few scattered spots (2) (3). Like all bamboo sharks (Hemiscylliidae), the paired pectoral and pelvic fins are muscular and leg-like, ideal for clambering over reefs and into crevices (2) (4).

The brownbanded bamboo shark has an Indo-West Pacific distribution, from India east to Japan and south to the northern coast of Australia (1) (2) (3).

Found on coral reefs and on sandy and muddy substrates from the intertidal zone down to depths of up to 85 metres. Owing to its ability to tolerate extremely hypoxic conditions, this species is often found on coral reef flats and in tidal pools (1) (2) (3).

Despite being relatively common, as a solitary, unobtrusive species, the brownbanded bamboo shark is not frequently seen (2). Juveniles typically hide in reef crevices, where their broad banding pattern provides excellent camouflage (1) (3). Feeding mainly at night, the brownbanded bamboo shark excavates the sediment in search of a diverse array of prey, from crabs and polychaete worms to shrimps and small fish. With the ability to survive a complete tidal cycle exposed out of the water, it commonly forages in the intertidal zone and in shallow tidal pools on coral or rocky reefs (1) (2) (3).

The brownbanded bamboo shark reproduces oviparously, with the eggs deposited in small rounded cases on the sea floor (1) (2) (3). The developing embryos feed solely on the yolk within the case until they hatch (3).

Both commercial and traditional fisheries target the brownbanded bamboo shark for human consumption over large parts of its range (1) (2) (3). This is compounded by the widespread degradation of coral reef habitat resulting from destructive fishing practices and pollution (1) (3). While collection for the aquarium trade is an additional concern, owing to the hardiness of the species and its tendency to breed prolifically in captivity, the impact is thought to be relatively minor (1) (2) (3).

The brownbanded bamboo shark is currently only protected on the east coast of Australia where it occurs in several marine parks (1).

To find out more about the conservation of sharks, see:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2009)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Compagno, L.J.V. (1984) FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 4: Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Part 1: Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
  3. Florida Museum of Natural History (July, 2009)
    http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/Gallery/Descript/bbambooshark/bbambooshark.html
  4. Campbell, A. and Dawes, J. (2004) Encyclopedia of Underwater Life. Oxford University Press, Oxford.