Arabian resident with a long tail

The Arabian carpetshark (Chiloscyllium arabicum) is a species of shark belonging to the family Hemiscylliidae, inhabiting coral reefs, lagoons, rocky coastlines, and mangrove estuaries from the Persian Gulf to India. Its range extends from the Persian Gulf to Pakistan and western India; it is abundant in the Persian Gulf in summer, and rarely reported from Oman and India. There are no type specimens known.


Family: Hemiscylliidae – Longtail Carpetshark

Genus: Chiloscyllium 

Species: arabicum


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameCarpet Sharks

Family– Hemiscylliidae

Common NameLongtail Carpetsharks or Bamboo Sharks




Average Size and Length: Hatchings measure under 10 cm/ 3.9 inches. Mature adults are anywhere between 1.5-1.8 feet. The maximum recorded is 2.3 feet, possibly 2.6 feet.

Current Rare Mythical Sightings: It was described as a new species in Gubanov and Schleib’s 1980 Sharks of the Arabian. Prior it its description it was commonly mistaken for the Grey Bamboo shark.

Teeth and Jaw: There are 26–35 upper tooth rows and 21–32 lower tooth rows. The teeth have a large central cusp and a pair of lateral cusplets.

Head: The snout is long, thick and rounded. The nostrils are set a good distance from the snout tip and preceded by a pair of short barbels. The eyes are medium-sized and placed high on the head, each with a low ridge above and a large spiracle behind and below. The small mouth lies well forward of the eyes. There is a continuous fold of skin across the chin that wraps around the corners of the mouth.

Tail: The caudal fin is low and lacks a lower lobe. The upper lobe has a strong ventral notch near the tip.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Arabian carpetshark can be found in the northwest Indian Ocean in the Persian Gulf to Pakistan to India. They can be found over coral reefs, lagoons, rocky shores and mangrove estuaries on the bottom between 10-328 feet. Most are found in shallow depths. In summer they are abundant in the Persian Gulf, and they are rarely reported from Oman and India. They are considered demersal. They are considered subtropical.

Diet: They feed on squid, shelled mollusks, crustaceans and snake eels.

Aesthetic Identification: The Arabian carpetshark is cylindrical, slender, plain brown and un-patterned; however, there are light spots on the juvenile’s fins. The dorsal and anal fins are set far back on a very long, and thick tail. The dorsal fin trailing edges are almost straight. The origin of the first dorsal fin is opposite or just behind the pelvic fin insertions. The second dorsal fin usually has a longer base than the first dorsal fin, but is smaller. There are prominent ridges on the back. The pectoral fins are small, broad, and rounded. The pelvic fins are similar and almost as large. The long, keel-like anal fin originates behind the second dorsal fin. The five pairs of gill slits are short, with the fourth and fifth pairs very close together.

Biology and Reproduction: They are oviparous and possibly on an annual cycle. There are up to 4 eggs laid on coral reefs and they hatch between 70-80 days at a temperature of 75 °F. They are thought to lay a total of around 33 eggs per year with 7% being infertile. The length of time to lay the eggs may last from 20 minutes to 2 days.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Their behavior is poorly known. They may be capable of surviving out of water for a longer period of time.

Arabian Carpetshark Future and Conservation: They are considered near threatened due to fishing pressures and habitat degradation among its range. In the Gulf they are common during the summer. They have been bred in captivity and thrive well in captivity. They are often caught as bycatch, but not desired for human use or consumption. However, humans do desire them for home or private aquariums. They are collected for the aquarium trade, which is not believed to pose a substantial threat to its population.

Arabian Carpetshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: They are small and harmless to humans.