June Elasmobranch of the Month: Whitecheek Shark Facts
The Whitecheek shark (also known as the widemouth blackspot shark) is a small, slender-bodied species, with the maximum length for females being 100.7 cm (3.4 ft.) and males being 96 cm (3.2 ft.). Its coloration is gray to brown-gray on the top and sides, becoming cream to white underneath. It has a long head and rounded snout. The first dorsal fin is triangular in shape. The second dorsal fin, located close to the caudal fin, is significantly smaller than the first dorsal and the top half of it is black. The pectoral fins are an elongated, triangular shape with somewhat pointed tips. The caudal fin is forked, with the upper lobe much larger than the lower lobe. Both the upper and lower jaws hold multiple rows of serrated teeth that point inwards.
Image credit: Tassapon KRAJANGDARA ( Fish Base)
Habitat and Distribution
The Whitecheek shark is native to the Indo-Pacific Ocean where it has a wide distribution in tropical waters, covering areas from Indonesia to Japan and Australia. It is found on continental shelves and at inshore slopes in depths from 0 – 170 m (0- 560 ft.).
The Whitecheek shark’s primary prey is fish. It also eats squid, octopuses, crabs, mollusks, and worms.
This shark species reproduction method is viviparous. Embryos develop inside the female until they are birthed live, usually in litters of 1-4 pups, with an average litter size of 2 pups. These pups are approximately 38 cm (15 inches). Breeding occurs throughout the year.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species currently lists the Whitecheek shark as Endangered, with a decreasing population trend.
The Whitecheek shark is targeted by commercial fishers. The meat and fins are sold for human consumption. Like many other shark species, this one is also taken as bycatch in trawls, longlines and gillnets. Natural predators of the Whitecheek shark are not known.
Planet Shark Divers
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Simpfendorfer, C., Jabado, R.W., Moore, A., Valinassab, T. & Elhassan, I. 2019. Carcharhinus dussumieri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T70680197A68612632. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-1.RLTS.T70680197A68612632.en. Accessed on 04 June 2023.