Photographs copyright Andy Murch. All rights reserved.
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Shark, Sharptooth Houndshark, Sweet William.
Stocky grey/tan body with
a light or heavy scattering of dark irregular spots. Juveniles have fewer or no
spots. Fins long and broad. Second dorsal almost as big as first dorsal.
Underside pale. Snout short and bluntly rounded. Teeth small, triangular and
Maximum recorded size 170cm.
Inshore sandy beaches, kelp forests and rocky reefs from the surf line to 50m.
Abundance and distribution:
Endemic to Southern Africa. From Southern Angola, Namibia to Natal Province in
eastern South Africa. Fairly common along the Western Cape.
Hunts over sand and
reef in search of crabs, lobsters, small fishes and other sharks.
Known to school in summer. Around Simon's Town, spotted gully sharks reside in
caves in the reef during the day.
Ovoviviparous with no yolk sac placenta. Recorded litter size 6-12.
Millers Point, Simon's
Town, South AFrica.
Conservation Status: The IUCN lists the spotted gully shark as 'Near
Threatened'. "There is a fairly large directed commercial shark demersal
longline fishery centred in Gansbaai and False Bay in South Africa, which takes
the Spotted Gully Shark as a minor bycatch along with the target species,
Soupfin or Vaalhai (Galeorhinus galeus), and other more abundant bycatch species
such as Common Smoothhound (Mustelus mustelus) and Bronze Whaler (Carcharhinus
brachyurus). There are no separate statistics available for commercial catches
of Spotted Gully Sharks. The meat of such sharks is dried into shark ?biltong?
or jerky, which sells for a relatively high price locally, or is shipped fresh
or frozen overseas (Italy or Taiwan (POC)). Also caught recreational anglers in
South Africa and Namibia, but not eaten much locally although perfectly edible."
Citation: Compagno, L.J.V. 2009. Triakis megalopterus. In: IUCN
2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. www.iucnredlist.org
The most similar species to the spotted gully shark (within its small range)
is the common houndshark Mustelus mustelus and the whitespotted
houndshark Mustelus palumbes. Both of these sharks are more slender and
lack the back spots of the spotted gully shark.
Reaction to divers:
Very skittish. Spotted gully sharks are extremely difficult to approach when
they are swimming in the open. In Simon's Town it is sometimes possible to
corner them in cave entrances in order to observe them more closely.
Miller's Point in Simon's Town (just down from the Boulder's Beach Penguin
Colony) is a good place to look for spotted gully sharks. From shore, head out
to the left side of the bay and look in the caves that are accessible at sand
level. It may take some hunting to find the right reef structure with the
biggest caves but the bay is not that big. Try to quietly enter each cave with
no lights on and wait till your eyes adjust to see if there are any spotted
gully sharks milling around. Chances are that in the bigger caves there will be
one or two.
More costly but far more convenient, take a charter with Shark Explorers out of
Simon's Town or join Big Fish Expeditions on their yearly
South African Shark Safari.