February Elasmobranch of the Month: Blind Shark
At a maximum length of 120 cm (3.9 feet), the Blind Shark is a small, nocturnal species. They commonly measure 66 cm (2.2 feet). Its coloration on top is brown to black with a yellowish color underside. It may have light colored dots on its back, as well as darker, saddle-like bands across its back. These markings fade as the shark grows and they become more uniform color. Its head is somewhat flat with small eyes and barbels extending from each nostril. The two dorsal fins are essentially the same size, located close together and further down the body. The pectoral fins are broad and large. The caudal fin makes up nearly a quarter of the shark’s total body length. Their small mouth holds 32–34 teeth in the upper jaw and 21–29 in the lower jaw. Their teeth have a central, awl-shaped cusp, tapering to a sharp point with small cusplets on each side.
Habitat and Distribution The Blind Shark is found in the Pacific Ocean, endemic to the Australian east coast, from southern Queensland to southern New South Wales. It is a bottom dwelling shark that inhabits inshore reefs, rocky areas and seagrass beds. It resides at depths between shallow tidal pools and 140 m (460 feet).
The Blind Shark eats small fishes and invertebrates such as squid, anemones and crustaceans.
Reproduction by the Blind Shark is ovoviviparous. With this form of reproduction embryos are nourished by a yolk-sac inside eggs that are retained inside the female. At birth they are approximately 15-18 cm (5.9-7.0 inches) long. The average litter size is 7-8 pups.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species currently lists the Blind Shark as Least Concern, with an unknown population trend.
The Blind Shark does not hold commercial value so is not a target of the commercial fishing industry. It is a part of the bycatch of trap and trawl fishing methods. This species is also taken for display in aquariums. This shark’s natural predators are unknown.
Planet Shark Divers
Shark Research Institute
Sharks And Rays
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Kyne, P.M. & Bennett, M.B. 2015. Brachaelurus waddi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T41732A68610784. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T41732A68610784.en. Accessed on 12 February 2023.