The Whitespotted bambooshark (Chiloscyllium plagiosum) is a shark belonging to the family Hemiscylliidae. They are small and mostly a nocturnal species that is harmless to humans. Unfortunately, they are sought out by private aquarists. They have a beautiful color pattern of light and dark spots, and dark bands.
Family: Hemiscylliidae – Longtail Carpetsharks
Common Name– Carpet Sharks
Status: IUCN Red List NEAR THREATENED
Average Size and Length: Hatchlings have been measured between 9-12 cm/ 3.5-4.7 feet. Mature males have been measured at 56-60 cm/ 1.2-2 feet. The maximum recorded has been 95cm/ 3.1 feet.
Teeth and Jaw: The teeth are not strongly differentiated. Each tooth has a medial cusp and weak labial root lobes with 26–35 teeth on the upper jaw and 21–32 teeth on the lower jaw. They have small teeth that can be used for grasping or crushing prey. Soft prey is seized when the tips of the teeth protrude deep into the flesh. The teeth pivot backwards when biting hard prey. This protects the tooth tip and allows the flattened front surface of the teeth to form a continuous plate for crushing.
Head: The nostrils are subterminal on the snout. The pre-oral snout is long. The mouth is closer to the eyes than the snout tip. The eyes and supraorbital ridges are hardly elevated There are spiracles located below the eyes. There are sensory barbels located near each nostril.
Denticles: There are lateral ridges present on the trunk.
Tail: The tail is very long and thick. The length of the precaudal tail is much longer than the body and head combined. The caudal fin has a pronounced subterminal notch; there is no ventral lobe present.
Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Whitespotted bambooshark can be found in the Indo-west Pacific in Madagascar to Indonesia, Philippines and Japan (35°N – 10°S, 42°E – 135°E). They can be found inshore on the bottom over reefs and in the tropics from 1-164 feet. They are considered tropical.
Diet: They eat bony fish and crustaceans.
Potential predators of the Whitespotted bambooshark include larger fish such as sharks as well as marine mammals.
Aesthetic Identification: The Whitespotted bambooshark has a dark body with many light and dark spots. The dark bands and saddles do not have conspicuous black edges. The dorsal fins have straight or convex rear margins. The dorsal fins and the anal fin are set far back on a very thick and long tail. The first dorsal fin origin is opposite or just behind the pelvic fin insertions. Their pectoral fins are bent and depressed, making it easy to rest with their trunk and head popped up. The pectoral fins are muscular and flexible and can be used to crawl along the bottom. The anal fin terminates just anterior to the caudal fin.
Biology and Reproduction: They are oviparous. Research suggests that the eggs hatch after 14-15 weeks. They lay 2 eggcases every 6-7 days, on an average of 2 months. The mating season off the Taiwanese coast takes place in December and January while ovulation occurs from March through May suggesting that females may be able to store sperm.
A female Whitespotted bambooshark that did not have any contact with a male for 6 years, laid eggs which hatched 3 young at the Belle Isle Aquarium in Detroit, Michigan. There are many theories for this incident but none are confirmed. There are several of unconfirmed theories. Among these theories, the three most likely would be that the female contains both the male and the female reproductive organs; the female has the ability to store sperm for that long; and lastly that the female has somehow stimulated the eggs without sperm, process called parthenogenesis (Traube, N.; Lampert, K. P.; Geiger, M. F.; Weiß, J. D.; Kirchhauser, J. X. (2016-01-03). “First record of second-generation facultative parthenogenesis in a vertebrate species, the whitespotted bamboosharkChiloscyllium plagiosum”. Journal of Fish Biology. 88 (2): 668–675.). There was another account of another Bamboo shark in England who underwent parthenogenesis.
The mating season for this species off the Taiwanese coast takes place in December and January while ovulation occurs from March through May suggesting that females may be able to store sperm.
It is possible that juvenile sharks need a higher intake of carbon than adult sharks.
Three albino Whitespotted bamboosharks have hatched at SeaWorld here in Orlando, Florida. The downtown Aquarium in Denver Colorado has had annual hatchings of albino Whitespotted bamboo sharks since 2007.
Heliconema minnanensis have been collected from the stomach of Whitespotted bamboosharks from Taiwanese waters. In addition, the cestode Yorkeria xiamenensis has been described from the spiral valve of this species in the coastal waters off China.
Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: They are nocturnal. They rest in reef crevices during the day and actively feed at night.
Whitespotted Bambooshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.