Whitespotted Bamboo Shark, Chiloscyllium plagiosum

This harmless shark is native to the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Indonesia, it is also found in coastal waters from Japan to India. It lives on the ocean floor in shallow areas around coral reefs, hiding during the day and feeding at night. In Taiwan and Madagascar the whitespotted bamboo shark is used for food. Occasionally this species is kept in home aquariums as pets.

The young whitespotted bamboo shark will have a black body covered with white and light blue spots and dark vertical bands. In the adult the body color will change to a medium brown, but will maintain the coloration of the spots and bands. The largest recorded length for the male of this species was 33 inches, and the largest female was 37 inches.

The bottom jaw will contain 21 – 32 teeth, and the upper jaw will have 26 – 35. When eating prey that has a shell, the teeth will pivot back to form a flat surface for crushing and also to protect the tips.

The adult whitespotted bamboo shark while in the wild will feed at night on small fish, lobster, mollusk, and crustaceans. As a pet in can be fed a wide variety of food, such as live squid, shrimp, scallops, and small fish. While in captivity it is not necessary to feed this species daily, every 2 – 3 days is sufficient, it all depends on growth rate and how active the fish is.

Breeding has not been observed in the wild, but in captivity the female will lay 2 eggs every 6th or 7th day during spring and summer. The egg will be 5 to 6 inches long and hatch in 14 to 15 weeks.

At SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida 3 albino whitespotted bamboo sharks were hatched.

In July 2002 a female that had no male contact for 6 years laid an egg cluster, and 3 hatched without any fertilization. Scientists have a few explanations of this. One is the female has both sexual organs, another is the female can store sperm for a considerable length of time, or the female can stimulate the eggs without fertilization. These are theories but nevertheless it was considered a virgin birth.

The population of the whitespotted bamboo shark is slowly shrinking and is considered near threatened on the endangered species list. Pollution and habitat loss are the main cause for the reduction in population, but it is also harvested for food, aquarium trade, and it is also used in certain Chinese medicines.

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Chondrichthyes

Subclass: Elasmobranchii

Order: Orectolobiformes

Family: Hemiscylliidae

Image Credit: Illustrations of Indian Zoology/Wikipedia