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Raja Ampat Epaulette Shark
Shark Picture Database
Names: Indonesian speckled carpetshark,
Raja Ampat walking shark, Freycinets Epaulette shark.
cylindrical, eel-like body. Well developed pectoral and pelvic fins on
fore-body. Two equally sized dorsal fins on rear-body. Tail long and straight
with upper and lower caudal lobes on underside. Sub-terminal notch present.
Body light reddish-tan speckled with small, mostly oval, dark spots. In mature
adults, groupings of spots form leopard-like markings. Darker patches along
upper back with concentrations of dark spots form 8 or 9 irregular saddles along
body and tail.
Two larger dark spots are present on the lower cheek just behind the eye; these
often form an elongated diagonal dark blotch.
The ocelli (eyespot behind gill) is large, oval and ringed in white on its
underside. Two smaller, joined, dark blotches form a figure 8 shape just behind
and below the ocelli. Ventrum pale.
at least 66cm. Previously reported length of 72cm may be accurate or may
represent the max size of H. michaeli.
Shallow coral reefs. From 0 to 12m.
Previously thought to be wide ranging
throughout New Guinea until the species was divided. Now considered endemic to the
Raja Ampat region of West Papua in Indonesia.
by day under corals
venturing out at sunset to feed.
Swims or walks along on its flexible pectoral and pelvic fins. Wriggles through
gaps in coral in search of prey or to seek protection.
Listed as NEAR THREATENED
by the IUCN:
Threats currently affecting the Indonesian Speckled Carpet Shark
are unclear. Given that it is a very attractive and hardy species it may be
sought for the aquarium trade. This species is very susceptible to habitat
destruction via dynamite fishing practices. However, there is a lack of
information on the extent of habitat degradation within its range (not only from
destructive fishing methods, but also from pollution; heavy pollutant loads from
mining activities are an issue within the region). The impacts of fishing
activities on this species are also unknown, but fishing pressure in shallow
inshore environments (including shallow reefs where this species occurs) can be
significant in eastern Indonesia. Illegal fishing activities also pose a threat
within the habitat of this species, and illegal fishing (which includes
trawling) is an on-going issue within Indonesian waters.
Gam Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia.
The Indonesian Speckled Carpet Shark is the only epaulette shark known to
inhabit the Raja Ampat region of West Papua.
Reaction to divers: Usually seen at night. Seeks
cover when caught in a diver's spotlight. Some animals are more tolerant of
diver's lights than others.
logistics: Most dive resorts in Raja Ampat know of shallow, inshore reefs
where Indonesian speckled epaulette sharks can be easily be found at night.
Kyne, P.M. & Heupel, M.R. 2011. Hemiscyllium
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T199932A9130008.
Allen & Dudgeon (2010). "Hemiscyllium michaeli, a new species
of Bamboo Shark (Hemiscyllidae) from Papua New Guinea". Aqua
International Journal of Ichthyology. 16 (1):