General Description

Stocky head and trunk, with small underslung mouth, prominent bony ridge above each eye and a stout spine at the front of each dorsal fin. Pale grey to brown with broad dark irregular lines. Usually females reach about 95 cm, and males 75 cm head to tail tip (up to 165 cm).

Biology

This harmless shark has sharp grasping teeth at the front of the jaws and crushing molars at the rear for feeding on hard shelled prey. Port Jackson sharks aggregate to breed in late winter to spring and, like all sharks, have internal fertilisation. They are oviparous, or egg-laying, with females laying up to 16 leathery, distinctively corkscrew-shaped spiral egg cases in rock crevices and fissures on inshore reefs. Beach-combers often find these dark brown egg cases washed up on beaches after storms. After developing inside the egg case for about a year, juvenile Port Jackson Sharks hatch at about 25 cm in length. Although not used as a food fish, Port Jackson Sharks are caught as bycatch in southern prawn trawl and southern shark gillnet fisheries.

Distribution

Southern Australia.

Habitat

Usually on rocky reefs, but also found on other bottoms, including muddy or sandy bottoms with seagrass beds to depths of 275 m.

More Information

  • Animal Type

    Fishes

  • Animal SubType

    Sharks & rays

  • Fast Fact

    Heterodontus is from the Latin meaning many teeth, and the species is named for the locality where the holotype was collected.

  • Brief Id

    Head large, low ridge over each eye, two triangular dorsal fins each with a strong spine; pale greyish to brown, with dark harness-like markings.

  • Habitats

    Reefs

  • Diet

    Carnivore

  • Diet Categories

    Fish, Invertebrates

  • Hazards

    Port Jackson Sharks have rough skin covered with large denticles. Although considered harmless to humans, the pointed teeth at the front of the jaws can give a painful bite. The dorsal-fin spines are reportedly venomous.

  • Endemicity

    Native to Australia

  • Commercial

    No

  • Conservation Statuses

    IUCN Red List Least concern

  • Depths

    Deep ( > 30 m)

  • Water Column Locations

    On or near seafloor

  • Taxon Name

    Heterodontus portusjacksoni

  • Scientific Author

    (Meyer, 1793)

  • Common Name

    Port Jackson Shark

  • Other Names

    Bullhead , Bullhead Shark , Dogshark , Horn Shark , Oyster Crusher , Oyster-crusher , Pigfish , Tabbigaw

  • Phylum

    Chordata

  • Subphylum

    Craniata

  • Superclass

    Gnathostomata

  • Class

    Chondrichthyes

  • Subclass

    Elasmobranchii

  • Order

    Heterodontiformes

  • Family

    Heterodontidae

  • Genus

    Heterodontus

  • Species Name

    portusjacksoni