Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Found close inshore on the continental shelf, often in shallow, rocky areas (Ref. 244). Feeds on lobsters, crabs and small bony fish (Ref. 5578). Oviparous (Ref. 50449). Readily kept in captivity (Ref. 244). Caught by shore anglers (Ref. 5578).
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Distribution

Range Description

H. fuscus endemic to a relatively small stretch (less than 1,000 km) of the South African coastline, ranging from Storms River mouth, eastern Western Cape, to just south of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal. It is a rare vagrant west of the Storms River mouth, with one record from the western Western Cape (Bass et al. 1975; Human 2003, 2007). This inshore highly site-specific species? estimated area of occupancy is less than 2,000 km².
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Southeast Atlantic: just west of Cape Agulhas to southern Natal in South Africa (Ref. 5578). This species is sympatric with Haploblepharus edwardsii in the southeastern Cape region but there is at least partial microhabitat separation between the two - Haploblepharus fuscus occurs inshore while Haploblepharus edwardsii occurs in deeper water offshore (Ref. 244).
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Southeastern Atlantic, southwestern Indian Ocean: southern Africa.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 0; Analspines: 0; Analsoft rays: 0
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Size

Maximum size: 690 mm TL
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Max. size

69.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 244)); 73 cm TL (female)
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Diagnostic Description

The largest shyshark, usually plain yellowish-brown above becoming just yellowish below; small light spots and indistinct brown saddles in some specimens (Ref. 5578).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
H. fuscus prefers inshore rocky reef habitats. All specimens examined by Human (2003, 2007) were collected very close to shore (rock and surf angling), with no records of specimens being caught by offshore fishing activities.

Very little of the life history is known for H. fuscus. Maximum size is reported at 73 cm total length (TL) (Compagno 1984). Males are juvenile at 43.8?46.0 cm TL, adolescent at 49.5?54.3 cm TL, and mature at 55.0?64.9 cm TL. Females are adolescent at 49.6?56.8 cm TL, and mature at 60.9?63.1 cm TL. The juveniles of this species are scarce and there appears to be an unknown habitat that is used by H. fuscus for egg laying, and where juveniles spend that stage of their life history (Human 2003, 2007). Other members of this genus produce a single eggcase per uterus which is assumed here for this species.

Systems
  • Marine
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Environment

reef-associated; marine
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Depth range based on 2 specimens in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 12.8016 - 18.288

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 12.8016 - 18.288
 
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Trophic Strategy

Feeds on fish, crabs and lobsters (Ref. 5578).
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Oviparous, laying 2 egg cases at a time (Ref. 11228). Embryos feed solely on yolk (Ref. 50449).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
B2ab(iii)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2009

Assessor/s
Human, B.

Reviewer/s
Cavanagh, R.D., Fowler, S.L., Stevens, J.D., Pollard, D., Dudley, S. & Valenti, S.V. (Shark Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
Haploblepharus fuscus is distributed along less than 1,000 km of coastline. This catshark appears to be highly site specific, with a fragmented population. The species? estimated area of occupancy is less than 2,000 km². It appears to be an abundant inshore shark, commonly caught by rock and surf anglers, taken as discarded bycatch in recreational fishing activities, and is generally regarded as a nuisance by the fishermen, and persecuted as such. It has not been seen in other inshore fishery activities. The most inshore of all the Southern African endemic catsharks, it is restricted to a very narrow band of habitat. Its endemicity and very narrow nearshore distribution means that it is imperative to monitor the abundance of the species and the health of its preferred habitat, as abundance has not been quantified and fishing related threats are potentially high. A continuing decline in the quality of its inshore habitat is inferred as a result of heavy human utilization, warranting an assessment of Vulnerable.
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Population

Population
There is anecdotal evidence that these catsharks are highly site-specific and that the population is very sub-structured, suggesting that it may be severely fragmented.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
Persecution from recreational anglers and potential loss of habitat are the greatest threats to this inshore, restricted endemic. It appears not to be taken by other inshore fisheries, suggesting a very shallow habitat preference for this species, giving rise to this sharks potential vulnerability to habitat degradation. Survival rates from recreational angling, where it is a common bycatch within its range, are unknown. This shark is released alive during angling competitions, but this situation my not hold true in other forms of recreational angling, as is seen with other species of catshark in South Africa. This species is also occasionally used in aquaria, however, there is no directed fishery for this species for the aquarium trade at present (Human 2003, 2007).

This species? inshore habitat is subject to heavy and increasing human utilizations, including extensive recreational diving and sport and commercial fishing along with coastal housing development, boating, commercial shipping, holiday-making, beach utilization and extensive pollution and habitat degradation of inshore environments.
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Vulnerable (VU) (B2ab(iii))
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The biology of this species is virtually unknown, which is of concern given that this is an inshore shark and caught with relatively high frequency by shore anglers in the Eastern Cape. The gathering of biological data for this species should be considered a priority given that it is an endemic with a restricted range, with a habitat preference that is in a zone that experiences significant fishing pressure (Human 2007). Recommend that recreational catches be monitored. Education and awareness is recommended, to reduce/prevent persecution.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: subsistence fisheries; gamefish: yes
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Wikipedia

Brown shyshark

The brown shyshark or plain happy (Haploblepharus fuscus) is a species of catshark, family Scyliorhinidae. It is endemic to the shallow, coastal waters of South Africa from west of Cape Agulhas to KwaZulu-Natal. This benthic species is usually found over sandy or rocky bottoms. Measuring up to 73 cm (29 in) long, the brown shyshark is stoutly built, with a broad, flattened head and rounded snout. Unlike other shysharks, the brown shyshark has a plain brown color, though some individuals have faint "saddle" markings or light or dark spots. When threatened, this shark curls into a circle with its tail over its eyes, which is the origin of the name "shyshark". It feeds on bony fishes and lobsters, and is oviparous with females laying pairs of egg capsules. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed this harmless species as Vulnerable. It is of no commercial or recreational interest, but its limited distribution makes its entire population vulnerable to increases in fishing pressure or habitat degradation.

Taxonomy and phylogeny[edit]

The brown shyshark was described by South African ichthyologist James Leonard Brierley Smith in a 1950 article for The Annals and Magazine of Natural History. He chose the specific epithet fuscus, which is Latin for "brown". The type specimen is a 57 cm (22 in) long adult male caught off East London, South Africa.[2] A 2006 phylogenetic analysis based on three mitochondrial DNA genes found that the brown shyshark and the dark shyshark (H. pictus) are sister species. They are the more derived members of the genus relative to the basal puffadder shyshark (H. edwardsii).[3]

Description[edit]

A small species reaching a maximum known length of 73 cm (29 in), the dark shyshark has a stocky body and a short, broad head. The snout is blunt and dorsally flattened. The eyes are large and oval-shaped, with a rudimentary nictitating membrane (protective third eyelid) and a strong ridge underneath. The nostrils are very large, and are flanked by greatly expanded, triangular flaps of skin that reach the mouth. These nasal flaps cover a pair of deep grooves that connect the nasal excurrent (outflow) openings and the mouth. There are furrows at the corners of the mouth on both jaws. The teeth have a central cusp and a pair of smaller cusplets on the sides. The five pairs of gill slits are positioned on the upper sides of the body.[4]

The first dorsal fin originates well behind the pelvic fin origins, and the second originates behind the anal fin origin. The pectoral fins are moderately large, and the dorsal, pelvic, and anal fins are of similar sizes. The caudal fin is short and broad, with a notch near the tip of the upper lobe and an indistinct lower lobe. The skin is thick and covered by well-calcified leaf-like dermal denticles.[4] The coloration is a plain brown above and white below, though some individuals have a series of faint darker saddle-like markings or black or white spots.[5]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The brown shyshark has a restricted distribution along the coast of South Africa, from the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces to southern KwaZulu-Natal Province. It is usually found close to the bottom over sandy flats or rocky reefs, from the intertidal zone to a depth of 35 m (115 ft). However, it has been reported from as deep as 133 m (436 ft).[5][6] The range of this species overlaps with the puffadder shyshark in the southeastern Cape region. There, the brown shyshark tends to favor shallow inshore habitats, while the puffadder shyshark inhabits deeper offshore waters.[4]

Biology and ecology[edit]

The brown shyshark is a sedentary, bottom-dwelling species; one tag-recapture study found that recaptured sharks had moved no more than 8 km (5.0 mi) from their original tagging location.[7] This shark is known to feed on bony fishes and lobsters. Like its relatives in the genus, it exhibits a curious response of curling into a ring with its tail covering its eyes when threatened, hence the name "shyshark".[6] Reproduction is oviparous, with females depositing egg capsules (known as "mermaid's purses") two at a time.[4] In captivity, the whelks Burnupena papyracea and B. lagenaria have been documented piercing the egg cases and extracting the yolk.[8] Males reach sexual maturity at a length of 68–69 cm (27–27 in), and females at a length of 60–61 cm (24–24 in).[6]

Human interactions[edit]

The brown shyshark is harmless to humans and not targeted by any commercial fisheries due to its small size, though it may be caught as bycatch. It is regarded as a minor pest species by recreational anglers and usually discarded or killed when hooked. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed this species as Vulnerable. Although it is locally abundant, heavy fishing occurs throughout its small range and an increase in fishery activities or pollution could potentially affect the entire population.[6] The brown shyshark adapts readily to captivity.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Human, B. (2009). "Haploblepharus fuscus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  2. ^ Smith, J.L.B. (1950). "A new dog-fish from South Africa with notes on other Chondrichthyan fishes". Annals and Magazine of Natural History 3 (34): 878–887. 
  3. ^ Human, B.A.; Owen, E.P.; Compagno, L.J.V.; Harley, E.H. (2006). "Testing morphologically based phylogenetic theories within the cartilaginous fishes with molecular data, with special reference to the catshark family (Chondrichthyes; Scyliorhinidae) and the interrelationships within them". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 39 (2): 384–391. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2005.09.009. PMID 16293425. 
  4. ^ a b c d Compagno, L.J.V. (1984). Sharks of the World: An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Shark Species Known to Date. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. p. 334. ISBN 92-5-101384-5. 
  5. ^ a b Compagno, L.J.V.; Dando, M.; Fowler, S. (2005). Sharks of the World. Princeton University Press. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-691-12072-0. 
  6. ^ a b c d Fowler, S.L., R.D. Cavanagh, M. Camhi, G.H. Burgess, G.M. Cailliet, S.V. Fordham, C.A. Simpfendorfer, and J.A. Musick (2005). Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras: The Status of the Chondrichthyan Fishes. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. pp. 265–266. ISBN 2-8317-0700-5. 
  7. ^ Kohler, N.E. and P.A. Turner (2001). "Shark tagging: a review of conventional methods and studies". Environmental Biology of Fishes 60: 191–223. doi:10.1023/A:1007679303082. 
  8. ^ Smith, C. and C. Griffiths (1997). "Shark and skate egg-cases cast up on two South African beaches and their rates of hatching success or causes of death". South African Journal of Zoology 32: 112–117. 
  9. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2009). "Haploblepharus fuscus" in FishBase. August 2009 version.
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