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August Elasmobranch of the Month: Whitespotted Bamboo Shark

Whitespotted bamboo shark

(Chiloscyllium plagiosum)

Key Features/Appearance

Whitespotted bamboo sharks are a small species reaching a maximum length of 95 cm (3.1 ft). The coloration on their dorsal side is brown, tan, or gray with broad, black, horizontal bands down the length of their body. Small, light-colored dots are visible from head to tail. The color on their underside is cream to white. They have a rounded snout and small barbels that extend from their nasal openings. All of their fins have rounded tips. Both dorsal fins are relatively the same size, with the first dorsal only slightly larger than the second. The pectoral fins are broadly rounded. The long caudal fin is not forked. The upper jaw of this shark contains approximately 26–35 rows of teeth while the lower jaw holds 21–32 rows. The teeth in both jaws are relatively small and slightly pointed. They are designed to grab prey and crush it.

Habitat and Distribution

The Whitespotted bamboo shark is broadly distributed throughout the Indo-West Pacific. It ranges from southern India to southern Japan. Their selected habitat is inshore reefs between 0-50 m (164 ft.)


Whitespotted bamboo sharks are nocturnal bottom feeders preying on fish, shrimp, cra,b and lobster.


This shark species reproduces by laying eggs (oviparous) on reefs. Reproductive information learned in captivity shows females lay an estimated 26 eggs per year, releasing 2 at a time. The eggs hatch approximately 110 to 135 days later. The hatchlings measure 9-12 cm (3.5 - 4.7 inches).


The Whitespotted bamboo shark is listed as “Near Threatened” with a decreasing population trend on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


Whitespotted bamboo sharks are targeted by the commercial industry for human consumption and the aquarium trade. The loss of habitat is also a concern for this species.


Florida Museum of Natural History

Sharks and Rays

Shark Research Institute


The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2022-2

Kyne, P.M., Bin Ali, A., Fahmi, Finucci, B., Herman, K., Manjaji Matsumoto, B.M. & VanderWright, W.J. 2021. Chiloscyllium plagiosum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T124554059A124453319. Accessed on 11 August 2023.


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