all images of Dark Shysharks
Shark Pictures Database
Dark Shyshark, Pretty
Dark shysharks are small catsharks that are generally mid brown with darker
brown saddles (without obvious dark borders) containing large sparse lighter
spots. However, there is a great deal of variation and crossover between the
dark shyshark and all other shyshark species present within the region. See
'Similar Species' below and this page on possible variations:
Maximum recorded size: 60cm. At maturity: female 35-60cm. Male 40-57cm.
Inshore rocky/coral reefs and kelp forests. Also on sand adjacent to reefs and on soft
bottoms to 35m.
Endemic to South Africa and Namibia. From Namibia to East London in Southeastern
South Africa. Common around Cape Town.
Small bony fishes, mollusks, crustaceans, polychaete worms and occasionally
Swims over reef substrates and soft bottoms in search of
food. Covers it's head wth its tail when captured.
Lays paired egg capsules which it frequently attaches to urchins on
the reef. Egg cases in an aquarium hatched in 3.5 months.
Millers Point, Simon's
Town, South Africa.
Conservation Status: The IUCN lists the dark shyshark as Least Concern.
Justification: "Haploblepharus pictus
is endemic to Namibia and South Africa. An abundant inshore catshark, it is
commonly caught by rock and surf anglers, and regularly seen by scuba divers and
snorkellers. Its habitat preference appears to be kelp forests and rocky inshore
reefs. Variation in colour pattern of this species and morphological similarity
with other members of this genus has led to misidentifications of this species
particularly east of Cape Algulhas, South Africa. The main threat is
recreational fishing where this shark is taken as discarded bycatch, generally
regarded as a nuisance by the fishermen, and persecuted as such. It is not seen
in other inshore fishery activities. Its apparent abundance and lack of
significant fishing related threats give no reason to suspect a decline in
abundance and this species is listed as Least Concern. However, its endemicity
and habitat preference means that monitoring is required for both its abundance
and health of its preferred habitat. Possible population substructuring needs to
Human, B. 2009. Haploblepharus
In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>.
generally has brighter saddles and intricate markings that
differentiate it from most other catsharks.
The Natal shyshark is a
darker form with broken saddles
and larger spots. It was recently described as a separate species:
The brown catshark H.fuscus is generally plain brown but may have subtle
bars that are reminiscent of the dark shyshark.
The yellowspotted shyshark H.capensis is predominantly brow but displays
conspicuous pale yellow spots over its whole body.
Reaction to divers:
Mostly ignores divers unless closely pursued. Once the dark shyshark establishes
that it is being followed it will generally move away, seek cover or at least attempt to
keep its distance while on the move. A slow approach to a stationary animal
generally will not illicit a flight response.
Miller's Point in Simon's Town (just down from the Boulder's Beach Penguin
Colony) is a great place to look for dark shysharks. From shore, head out to the
reef and look for these sharks swimming over the reef and sand. These are some
of the most common sharks in this
area so a little patience should reward the diver with some good sightings.
For an excellent introduction to all of the accessible sharks of the region,
sign up for an expedition to
Simon's Town with Big Fish Expeditions:
South African Shark Safari.
Big Fish Expeditions: