Whitecheek shark (Carcharhinus dussumieri)

Also known as: Widemouth blackspot shark
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassChondrichthyes
OrderCarcharhiniformes
FamilyCarcharhinidae
GenusCarcharhinus (1)
SizeLength: 90 cm (1)

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

A widespread species, the whitecheek shark is the most common shark in the Arabian Gulf. Possessing the typical shark form, the whitecheek shark has a pointed snout, large front dorsal fin, greyish upperparts, and a white belly (2). The main distinguishing feature is the black spot on the second, smaller dorsal fin towards the shark’s rear (2) (3).

The whitecheek shark is distributed over a large range, extending from the Arabian Gulf, through the Indian Ocean and Indonesia, as far east as Taiwan and Japan, and south as far as northern Australia (1).

The whitecheek shark is found in shallow, coastal waters, to a maximum depth of 170 metres (2) (3).

Despite being relatively common in many parts of its range, little is known about the biology of the whitecheek shark (3). This species mainly feeds on fish, along with crustaceans and squid (1), which are snared by its numerous rear-angled, serrated-edged teeth (2).

The whitecheek shark breeds throughout the year, with the female giving birth to an average of two live young, which are already almost half the size of the adult (4).

Large numbers of whitecheek shark are caught throughout its range, both for human consumption, and as bycatch (1) (3). Being a coastal species, the whitecheek shark falls within numerous commercial and local fishing areas, where its small size means that it falls victim to all commonly used fishing techniques, including gillnetting, hook and line, and trawling. Given the low numbers of offspring produced by the whitecheek shark, it is unlikely to be able to reproduce fast enough to cope with current levels of exploitation in certain parts of its range. Consequently, in heavily fished waters this species has suffered population declines, and even local extinctions (1).

There are no current conservation measures targeted specifically towards the whitecheek shark. As such a common and widely caught bycatch species, effective conservation strategies would need to employ “no-fishing zones” in order to prevent further declines. Unfortunately, given the current lack of information about this species’ movement patterns, it is not yet possible to determine how large these zones would have to be and, therefore, if their creation would be practical (1).

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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 (February, 2009)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Randall, J.E. (1996) Coastal Fishes of Oman. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.
  3. FishBase (February, 2009)
    http://www.fishbase.com/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?genusname=Carcharhinus&speciesname=dussumieri
  4. Teshima, K. and Mizue, K. (1972) Studies on the sharks I. Reproduction in the female sumitsuki shark, Carcharhinus dussumieri. Marine Biology, 3: 222 - 231.