MILNE BAY EPAULETTE SHARK OR LEOPARD EPAULETTE SHARK
A shark with spots like a leopard
The Milne Bay Epaulette shark or the Leopard Epaulette shark (Hemiscyllium michaeli), is a species of shark belonging to the family Hemiscylliidae. It is a recently described tropical shark known from the shallow ocean in the Milne Bay region of eastern Papua New Guinea. This shark has been often cofused with other family members within its region, and it was only in 2010 that the Milne Bay Epaulette shark or the Leopard Epaulette shark was described as a separate species by Gerald R. Allen and Christine L. Dudgeon.
Family: Hemiscylliidae – Longtail Carpetsharks
Common Name– Carpet Sharks
Average Size and Length: It can reach a maximum length of 69.5 cm/2.3 feet.
Current Rare Mythical Sightings: They are also known as Michael’s Epaulette shark.
Tail: The tail is thick and long.
Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Milne Bay Epaulette shark or the Leopard Epaulette shark can be found in the shallow ocean in the Milne Bay region of eastern Papua New Guinea in the Pacific Ocean. It is benthopelagic and has been found at a depth range of 7-66 feet.. It prefers tropical waters.
Aesthetic Identification: The Milne Bay Epaulette shark or the Leopard Epaulette shark was previously confused with the Indonesian Speckled carpetshark, H. freycineti, which is restricted to Papua Barat Province (western New Guinea), Indonesia. The two species differ primarily in color pattern, which provides the best way of separating the numerous members of the genus. Both species have an abundant covering of brown spots with a large black or brown ocellated marking on the middle of the side, just behind the head. The spots of the Milne Bay Epaulette shark or the Leopard Epaulette shark are generally denser, larger, and distinctly polygonal, remarkably similar to the spots of a leopard. In contrast those of the Indonesian Speckled carpetshark, which are round to transversely elongate and are darkened at regular intervals to form 8-9 bars or saddle-like markings, including the ones on the tail. The difference in spot pattern between the two species is particularly evident in the head region. In addition, the Milne Bay Epaulette shark has a vivid ocellate black spot behind the head, whereas the black spot of the Indonesian Speckled carpetshark H. is generally not well defined.
Biology and Reproduction: Not much is known but they are thought to be oviparous.
Comparison of the mitochondrial ND4 gene also supports the species-level separation of the Milne Bay Epaulette shark and the Indonesian Speckled carpetshark.
Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Not much is known. They may behave similar to other members of this genus.
Speed: More than likely slow and they crawl using their pectoral and pelvic fins.
Allen, G.R. and C.L. Dudgeon, 2010. Hemiscyllium michaeli, a new species of Bamboo Shark (Hemiscyllidae) from Papua New Guinea. Aqua, Intl. J. Ichthyol. 16(1):19-30.