The shark with a pavement like mouth
The Gummy shark (Mustelus antarcticus), (sometimes referred to as the Australian Smoothhound, Flake, Sweet William or Smooth dogshark), is a shark belonging to the family Triakidae. These small to medium-sized (some large) bottom-dwelling sharks are found mostly in the area around the southern seas of Australia is commonly baited and fished for because of its meat. It is a slender shark, lighy grey to bronze with white spots. It gets its name from its flat, plate-like teeth.
Family: Triakidae – Houndsharks
Common Name– Ground Sharks
Common Name– Houndsharks
Average Size and Length: They are born around 33 cm/1 foot. Mature males have been measured at 68 cm/ 2.2 feet and mature females at 80/2.6 feet. The maximum recorded for a male has been 148 cm/4.9 feet and the maximum for a female 185 cm/6 feet.
Teeth and Jaw: The mouth is angular. The upper labial furrows are long. The teeth are mostly flat and plate-like used for crushing.
Head: The nostrils are widely separated.
Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Gummy shark can be found in Australia. They have been found from Shark Bay in Western Australia to Port Stephens in New South Wales (28°S – 44°S). It is the only shark in its genus found in temperate waters. It is found on or near the bottom mainly on the continental shelf from the short to about 262 feet. They have also been found on the upper slope to 1,148 feet. There are no major migrations, but some large females may move long distances. Nursery areas are shallow and coastal. They are demersal, oceanodromous.
Diet: They eat crustaceans, small fish and marine worms.
Aesthetic Identification: The Gummy shark is slender and is white-spotted bronze to greyish-brown. They rarely have black spots. The ventral side is pale. The second dorsal fin is nearly as long as the first dorsal fin. The fin margins are not frayed. The pectoral and pelvic fins are somewhat small.
Biology and Reproduction: They are aplacental viviparous, or ovoviviparous having 1 to 38 pups per litter, with an average of about 14, in uterine compartments, which is dependent on the size of the female. Ovulation takes place in October-December or November- February. The gestation period is 11 months. Females give birth annually or on alternate years in shallow coastal nurseries. Females are usually ready to reproduce at the age of 5, and males at sexually maturity at about 4 years of age. They live to about 16 years.
Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: They may form schools by sex and size. Newborn and juvenile gummy sharks aggregate in many areas across southern Australia, but it is not known whether they inhabit defined shallow-water nursery areas.
Gummy Shark Future and Conservation: They are currently of least concern. They are abundant. This endemic species is harvested for its meat throughout its range. Gummy shark meat is often called flake in southern Australia. Their boneless fillets have made them particularly popular within the fish and chip industry throughout Australia. Management of this species includes protecting nursery grounds and the much larger, mature female sharks. Previously this species population was depleted, but with these efforts are in place, populations have bounced back, and they are of least concern. Bag limits for recreational fishers in Victoria, Australia apply. There is a five-shark limit for large boats.
Gummy Shark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.