Reddish shark with white spots

The Whitespotted Bullhead shark, (Heterodontus ramalheira), is a Bullhead shark belonging to the family Heterodontidae found in the western and northern Indian Ocean between latitudes 22°N to 26°S. These sharks have a beautiful reddish-brown color with white spots. An egg case of this shark has not been found yet.


Family: Heterodontidae – Bullhead Sharks

Genus: Heterodontus 

Species: ramalheira



Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Infraclass– Euselachii

Superorder– Selachimorpha


Common NameBullhead Sharks

Family– Heterodontidae

Common Name– Bullhead Sharks




Average Size and Length: They are born around 18 cm/ 7.1 inches. Mature males are around 60 cm/ 1.9 feet on average. Females have been measured less than 75 cm/ 2.5 feet. The maximum recorded has been over 85 cm/ 2.8 feet.

Current Rare Mythical Sightings: The Whitespotted Bullhead shark was first described by Smith in 1949. Holotype: Natural History Museum, Maputo, Mozambique, 585 mm female. Type Locality: Imhambane, Mozambique.

Teeth and Jaw: The molariform teeth in the rear of the mouth are not greatly expanded and rounded.

Head: The supraorbital ridges are moderately high, ending abruptly behind eyes.

Tail: Asymmetrical caudal fin.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Whitespotted Bullhead shark can be found in the north and west Indian Ocean. They can be found in South Africa in KwaZulu-Natal, in Mozambique, in Somalia, in the eastern Arabian Peninsula and southern Oman. They can be found in the outer continental shelf and the uppermost slope in deep-ish water between 131-902 feet, but mostly greater than 328 feet. They are considered benthic.

Diet: They mostly feed on crabs.

Ram-Suction Index: Like the other members of its family, the Whitespotted Bullhead shark is more than likely high on the suction side of the index. They more than likely suck in prey and water from rocks and crevices and use their unique different teeth to pierce the prey with its sharp front teeth when the jaw extends, and crush and grind it with its molar like back teeth.

Aesthetic Identification: The Whitespotted Bullhead shark is reddish-brown with white spots and darker indistinct saddles in adults. Neonates have a striking and unique whorled pattern of thin, curved parallel dark lines that begin to disappear as they age and grow. There are parallel dark lines under and between the eyes in the neonates that will change to a dusky patch in larger juvenile sharks which are lost in adult sharks. There is a strong medial ridge. They have two dorsal fins with spines. The first dorsal fin origin is over the pectoral bases. There is an anal fin present. The apex of the anal fin is falling slightly ahead of the lower caudal origin when it is laid back. The anal base length is slightly less than twice in space between the anal insertion and the lower caudal origin.

Biology and Reproduction: They are more than likely oviparous, but the egg cases of this shark have never been seen.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Their behavior is mostly unknown. They may behave in similar ways to the behaviors of other family members.  

Speed: Like their family members, the Whitespotted Bullhead shark is presumably slow and sluggish. They more than likely can rest o the bottom completely still and possibly even uses its large pectoral fins to crawl.

Whitespotted Bullhead Shark Future and Conservation: They are currently not evaluated. There is no interest by commercial fisheries. They are occasionally caught by commercial bottom trawlers.

Whitespotted Bullhead Shark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Harmless to humans (unless stressed), the Whitespotted Bullhead shark poses no threat. Their spines can impose a painful wound if not careful.