Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

  Common names: shark (English), dormilón (Espanol), cornudo (Espanol), tiburón (Espanol)
 
Heterodontus mexicanus Taylor & Castro-Aguirre, 1972


Mexican horn shark

A slender-bodied shark with an enlarged squarish head and pig-like snout; low bony ridge above each eye that ends gradually rear; space between eyes shallowly concave; nostrils without barbels; with grooves around the nostrils and connected to the mouth; anterior nasal flaps elongate posteriorly; small mouth; front teeth with 3 similar sized points, enlarged molariform teeth posteriorly; both dorsal fins with a sharp spine; origin of first dorsal fin over pectoral fin base; skin denticles on flank large (70-130/cm2  in adults) and rough.


Grey-brown, usually with scattered large (> ½ eye diameter) black spots on fins and body; a pale bar between eyes; 1-2 indistinct dusky blotches below eye.


Size: reaches 70 cm.

Habitat: rocky to sandy bottoms.

Depth: 1-50 m.

Southern Baja and the Gulf of California to Peru.


   
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Biology

Found on littoral continental waters, on rocky and sandy areas from close inshore down to at least 20 m depth. Reported to reach 165 cm (Ref. 37955). Feeds on crabs and demersal fishes including midshipman (Porichthtys) (Ref. 43278). Oviparous (Ref. 37955). Utilized as fishmeal.
  • Compagno, L.J.V. 1984 FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 4. Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Part 1 - Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(4/1):1-249. Rome: FAO. (Ref. 247)
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Distribution

Range Description

Eastern Pacific from Mexico to Colombia and probably also Ecuador and Peru (Compagno 2001). Known to be a common species in Magdalena Bay (Mexican Pacific), and also in the upper part of the Gulf of California.
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Zoogeography

See Map (including site records) of Distribution in the Tropical Eastern Pacific 
 
Global Endemism: All species, East Pacific endemic, Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) endemic

Regional Endemism: All species, TEP endemic, 3 provinces (Cortez + Mexican + Panamic) endemic, Continent + Island (s), Continent, Island (s)

Residency: Resident

Climate Zone: North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California), Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap), Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos), Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo), South Temperate (Peruvian Province )
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Eastern Pacific: Mexico and from Costa Rica to Colombia, probably Ecuador and Peru (Ref. 43278)
  • Compagno, L.J.V., F. Krupp and W. Schneider 1995 Tiburones. p. 647-744. In W. Fischer, F. Krupp, W. Schneider, C. Sommer, K.E. Carpenter and V. Niem (eds.) Guia FAO para Identification de Especies para los Fines de la Pesca. Pacifico Centro-Oriental. 3 Vols. FAO, Rome. (Ref. 9253)
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Eastern Pacific.
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Depth

Depth Range (m): 1 (S) - 50 (S)
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Physical Description

Morphology

Size

Length max (cm): 70.0 (S)
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Size

Max. size

170 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 96339))
  • Love, M.S., C.W. Mecklenburg, T.A. Mecklenburg and L.K. Thorsteinson 2005 Resource Inventory of Marine and Estuarine Fishes of the West Coast and Alaska: A Checklist of North Pacific and Arctic Ocean Species from Baja California to the Alaska-Yukon Border. U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resounces Division, Seattle, Washington, 98104. (Ref. 96339)
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Maximum size: 700 mm TL
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Ecology

Habitat

A warm-temperate and tropical bullhead shark of littoral continental waters, found on rocky bottom including reefs and seamounts, on coral reefs, and on sandy areas from close inshore down to 20 to 50 m depth.
  • Compagno, L.J.V. (2001). Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Volume 2. Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks (Heterodontiformes, Lamniformes and Orectolobiformes). FAO Species Catalogue for Fishery Purposes. No. 1, Vol. 2. Rome, FAO. 269p.
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Found on the continental shelf from close inshore to 50 m depth, in rocky habitats including reefs and seamounts, as well as coral reefs, and sandy areas (Compagno 2001). Eggs are laid in rocky areas that would unlikely be impacted by fisheries (W. Smith pers. comm).

No detailed information on the species? biology, but like other hornsharks, is oviparous.

Feeds on demersal crabs and fishes.

Life history parameters
Age at maturity (years): Unknown.
Size at maturity (total length): Female: unknown; Male: 40 to 50 cm TL (Compagno 2001).
Longevity (years): Unknown.
Maximum size (total length): ~70 cm TL (Compagno 2001).
Size at birth: ~14 cm TL (Compagno 2001).
Average reproductive age (years): Unknown.
Gestation time (months): Unknown.
Reproductive periodicity: Unknown.
Average annual fecundity or litter size: Unknown.
Annual rate of population increase: Unknown.
Natural mortality: Unknown.

Systems
  • Marine
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Environment

demersal; marine; depth range 0 - 50 m (Ref. 54547)
  • FAO-FIGIS 2005 A world overview of species of interest to fisheries. Chapter: Heterodontus mexicanus. Retrieved on 10 June 2005, from www.fao.org/figis/servlet/species?fid=12658. 3p. FIGIS Species Fact Sheets. Species Identification and Data Programme-SIDP, FAO-FIGIS (Ref. 54547)
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Depth range based on 9 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 3 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 2 - 72
  Temperature range (°C): 21.063 - 24.488
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.133 - 0.290
  Salinity (PPS): 34.228 - 35.023
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.879 - 5.091
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.352 - 0.543
  Silicate (umol/l): 3.264 - 4.062

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 2 - 72

Temperature range (°C): 21.063 - 24.488

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.133 - 0.290

Salinity (PPS): 34.228 - 35.023

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.879 - 5.091

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.352 - 0.543

Silicate (umol/l): 3.264 - 4.062
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Depth: 0 - 20m.
Recorded at 20 meters.

Habitat: demersal. Found on littoral continental waters, on rocky and sandy areas from close inshore down to at least 20 m depth. Oviparous.
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Salinity: Marine, Brackish

Inshore/Offshore: Inshore, Inshore Only

Water Column Position: Bottom, Bottom only

Habitat: Reef (rock &/or coral), Rocks, Reef and soft bottom, Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom), Soft bottom (mud, sand,gravel, beach, estuary & mangrove), Sand & gravel

FishBase Habitat: Demersal
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Trophic Strategy

Found on littoral continental waters, on rocky and sandy areas from close inshore down to at least 20 to 50 m depth. Also found on seamounts. Reported to reach 165 cm (Ref. 37955). Feeds on crabs and demersal fishes including midshipman (Porichthys, Batrachoididae) (Ref. 43278).
  • Compagno, L.J.V. 2001 Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Vol. 2. Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks (Heterodontiformes, Lamniformes and Orectolobiformes). FAO Spec. Cat. Fish. Purp. 1(2):269p. Rome: FAO. (Ref. 43278)
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Feeding

Feeding Group: Carnivore

Diet: mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs), mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves, sea-stars/cucumbers/urchins, bony fishes
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Diet

Feeds on crabs and demersal fishes including midshipman (Porichthys, Batrachoididae).
  • Compagno, L.J.V. (2001). Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Volume 2. Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks (Heterodontiformes, Lamniformes and Orectolobiformes). FAO Species Catalogue for Fishery Purposes. No. 1, Vol. 2. Rome, FAO. 269p.
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Life Cycle

Oviparous (Ref. 50449). Distinct pairing with embrace (Ref. 205).
  • Breder, C.M. and D.E. Rosen 1966 Modes of reproduction in fishes. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey. 941 p. (Ref. 205)
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Reproduction

Egg Type: Benthic, No pelagic larva, No pelagic phase
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Heterodontus mexicanus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
DD
Data Deficient

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2006

Assessor/s
Garayzar, C.V.

Reviewer/s
Kyne, P.M., Cavanagh, R.D. & Fowler, S.L. (Shark Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
A small (to 70 cm total length) inshore hornshark of rocky and sandy habitats and coral reefs. Endemic to the Eastern Pacific with a disjunct distribution in the Gulf of California and Mexican Pacific to Guatemala, Colombia and Panama and probably Ecuador and Peru. It is not known whether these areas support different subpopulations of the species. The Mexican hornshark is not of commercial value, but is taken as bycatch in bottom gillnets and shrimp trawling operations in the Gulf of California and Mexican coastal lagoons. Catches are discarded or sometimes retained for human consumption or fishmeal. Hornsharks are hardy species and can survive capture if returned to the water; however, catches in Mexico are often left to die on beaches. Eggs are laid in rocky areas unlikely to be impacted by fisheries. Insufficient information is available at present to assess the species beyond Data Deficient, however, the species is of potential concern due to its restricted disjunct distribution and artisanal and industrial fishing pressure.
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IUCN Red List: Listed, Data deficient

CITES: Not listed
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Population

Population
The species? distribution is disjunct and there may be several populations within its Mexican and Central American range. The southern America population could also be distinct.

No other information available on population sizes or structure.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
The Mexican Hornshark is not of commercial value, but is taken as bycatch in bottom gillnets and shrimp trawling operations in the Gulf of California and Mexican coastal lagoons (artisanal and larger scale industrial fisheries). Márquez-Farías (2002) documents H. mexicanus as comprising 1.53% of the catch of Sonora artisanal shark fishery in the northern Gulf of California. Large numbers (up to a thousand individuals) may be caught in a single gillnet set and are often left to die on the beach (Villavicencio Garayzar pers. obs). It should be noted that the species is hard to identify and some of these may be H. francisci given that the two species co-occur (W. Smith pers.comm.). Catches are discarded or sometimes used for human consumption, fishmeal or for their skins. No information is available on catches in other parts of the species? range, but it may be affected by artisanal and commercial fisheries.

Utilisation
The meat is sometimes used for human consumption, fishmeal and the skin is also sometimes utilized.
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Data deficient (DD)
  • IUCN 2006 2006 IUCN red list of threatened species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded July 2006.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Like other hornsharks, Heterodontus mexicanus is a hardy species and can survive capture in drift and trawl nets. Individuals should be returned to the water if alive after capture and education is required to end the practice of leaving large numbers to die on the beach.

Further information on distribution, population structure (to determine if separate subpopulations exist across the species? disjunct range) and biology is required.

The development and/or implementation of National Shark Plans under the FAO IPOA-Sharks, where necessary.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: subsistence fisheries
  • Coppola, S.R., W. Fischer, L. Garibaldi, N. Scialabba and K.E. Carpenter 1994 SPECIESDAB: Global species database for fishery purposes. User's manual. FAO Computerized Information Series (Fisheries). No. 9. Rome, FAO. 103 p. (Ref. 171)
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Wikipedia

Mexican hornshark

The Mexican hornshark, Heterodontus mexicanus, is a bullhead shark of the family Heterodontidae. This shark is grey-brown in color, with black spots scattered on the fins and body. It has a cylindrical trunk, conical head, and small spiracles behind the eyes. The snout of the Mexican hornshark is very round and blunt. Like all members of the order Heterodontiformes, this shark has fin spines in front of both of its dorsal fins. The first dorsal fin originates before the pectoral fins, while the second dorsal fin originates behind the pelvic fins. The Mexican hornshark reaches a maximum length of around 70 cm, but usually reaches between 50 and 60 cm on average. Young hornsharks hatch at around 14 cm. [1]

Habitat and Range[edit]

Mexican hornsharks are distributed throughout the coast of the Eastern Pacific, mainly around southern Baja California, and possibly as south as Peru. The rocky bottoms, coral reefs, and sandy areas of the littoral zone create the habitat of this hornshark. The Mexican hornshark can be found at a maximum depth of 50 meters, but are usually found down to 20 meters.[2]

Behavior[edit]

Like all members of the order Heterodontiformes, the Mexican hornshark is oviparous. After an unknown gestation period, the female attaches an unknown number of spiral-shaped egg cases to rocks on the sea floor. The length of the incubation period of these egg cases is also unknown. Not much about the feeding habits of the Mexican hornshark is known, but it is very likely they feed on shelled invertebrates. Because of its size, this shark poses no danger to humans.

Conservation[edit]

Because of its recent discovery and lack of research, the Mexican hornshark is listed as Data Deficient by the IUCN Red List. This shark is not considered to have commercial value, but it is at risk nonetheless because it is taken as by-catch by fishing operations that use bottom gillnets. Mexican hornsharks caught as by-catch are either discarded or used in fishmeal. If released back into the water, these sharks are hardy enough to survive, but unfortunately many discarded hornsharks are left on beaches to die. Overall, the threat to Mexican hornsharks is considerable, as their range is restricted and they are frequently caught as by-catch. [3]

References[edit]

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