Weird creature of the month – November

The epaulette shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum) is a species of long tailed carpet shark, found in the shallow, tropical waters of Australia and New Guinea (and possibly elsewhere).
The most fascinating thing about this shark is that it doesn’t swim! It actually walks on the bottom by the help of their fins. Only if it feels really threatened it swims just to get away. The name of this shark comes from the very large, white-margined black spot behind each pectoral fin, which are significant of military epaulettes.

It’s a small shark, typically less than 1 m long and has a small body with a short head and broad, paddle-shaped fins, two on each side. This little guy feeds on small shrimps, crabs, small fish and snails. The epaulette shark has evolved to cope with the severe nighttime oxygen depletion (hypoxia) in isolated tidal pools by increasing the blood supply to its brain and selectively shutting down non-essential neural functions. It is capable of surviving complete anoxia for an hour without ill effects, and at a much higher temperature than most other hypoxia-tolerant animals.

Sadly this shark is very common for people to have in their aquariums at home due to its size, and the worst natural enemies in the ocean are bigger fishes such as larger sharks. Hopefully there are enough sharks left in the oceans so that me and you can have the opportunity to swim with one someday.

 

Matilda Friberg
Kon-Tiki Krabi

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