This shark faces habitat threats

The Natal shyshark, Eastern shyshark or Happy Chappie (Haploblepharus kistnasamyi) is a species of catshark, belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. It was once regarded as the Puffadder shyshark, then later recognized as H. sp. A. The Natal shyshark or Happy Chappie is endemic to a small area off South Africa from the Western Cape to KwaZulu-Natal. It is found close to the coast, from the surf zone. They are critically endangered.


Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Haploblepharus 

Species: kistnasamyi


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks




Average Size and Length: Males measure around 50 cm/1.6 feet. Females around 48 cm/1.5 feet. The maximum is more than likely greater than 50 cm/1.6 feet.

Current Rare Mythical Sightings: The Natal shyshark or Happy Chappie was once considered to be the “Natal” form of the Puffadder shyshark, which differed from the main “Cape” form in appearance and habitat preferences. In 2006, Brett A. Human and Leonard J.V. Compagno formally described it as a new species, in an article published in the scientific journal Zootaxa. They named it after South African shark researcher Nat Kistnasamy, the Natal shyshark’s original discoverer.

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth has furrows at the corners on both jaws, and contains teeth with 3–5 points.

Head: The head is stalky, broad and flat, but less flattened than the Puffadder shyshark. The snout is broad and rounded. The nostrils are very large. There are greatly expanded nasal flaps that reach the mouth. There are a pair of deep grooves, covered by the nasal flaps, that run from the excurrent openings of the nostrils to the mouth. The eyes are large, with nictitating membranes and a prominent ridge beneath.

Denticles: The skin is thick, bearing well-calcified leaf-shaped dermal denticles.

Tail: The short and broad caudal fin has a ventral notch on the upper lobe and an indistinct lower lobe. They have a laterally compressed caudal peduncle.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Natal shyshark or the Eastern shark or the Happy Chappie can be found in the western Indian Ocean in South Africa from the western Cape and the eastern Cape to KwaZulu-Natal. They are close inshore on the continental shelf, sometimes found in the surf zone or on rocky reefs to a depth of 98 feet and is benthic in nature. Its total range is estimated to encompass an area of under 39 square miles. It prefers warm waters, opposed to the Puffadder shyshark, which prefers cooler, deeper waters.

Aesthetic Identification: The Natal shyshark or Happy Chappie has a body and tail dark brown in color. There are H-shaped dorsal saddle markings. The margins are conspicuous dark and dotted with numerous small white spots. The interspaces between the saddles and fins have dark mottling on a brown background. The ventral side is white. The body is slender in shape. The gill slits are on the upper sides of the body. It is similar in appearance to the Puffadder shyshark, but is a bit stalkier. The dorsal, pelvic, and anal fins are of roughly equal size. The dorsal fins are placed far back on the body, with the first originating behind the pelvic fin origins and the second originating behind the anal fin origins. The pectoral fins are moderately large.

Biology and Reproduction: Unknown, but possibly oviparous.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Like other shysharks, they curl into a ring and cover their eyes with their tails when threatened or captured.

Speed: More than likely sluggish in nature.

Natal Shyshark or Eastern Shark or Happy Chappie Future and Conservation: They are considered critically endangered due to their limited range, small population, habitat degradation and commercial fishing pressures. In the Durban area there is a lot of coastal development and expansion, in the form of industrial and tourism. The development will have an impact on this shark.

Natal Shyshark or Eastern Shark or Happy Chappie Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.