Habitat and Ecology
Known to associate closely with coral reefs in the Persian/Arabian Gulf: confirmed records of Arabian Carpetshark from reef environments in Bahrain (Randall 1986), Kuwait (Carpenter et al. 1997); and Saudi Arabia's Gulf coast (Krupp and Almarri 1996).
Relatively hardy to capture by trawl and exposure to air (A.B. M. Moore, pers. obs. 2007).
Depth range (m): 24.5 - 24.5
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.
From 3 to 100 meters.
Habitat: demersal. A common inshore to offshore bottom shark.
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Chiloscyllium arabicum
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Common as bycatch in trawls in Kuwait, where "cat sharks" (likely to contain most, if not all, C. arabicum) are reported as the second most abundant bycatch in the prawn trawl fishery, accounting for nearly 14% of all bycatch (Bishop 2002). Also reported as bycatch (as "C. arabicus") in the Bahrain shrimp fishery (Abdulqader 2001). Despite high levels of bycatch this species is only very rarely observed in local markets, at least in Kuwait (A.B.M. Moore, pers. obs. 2007), suggesting it is discarded. Caught in artisanal intertidal stake-net traps (hadra), at least in Kuwait (McEwan et al. 2001) and likely throughout The Persian/Arabian Gulf.
High levels of PAHs and benzo [a] pyrene reported from this species from Kuwait (Al-Hassan et al. 2000).
Habitat degradation is likely to be an important factor. C. arabicum is known to have close association with coral reef habitats, which are particularly prone to anthropogenic degradation. In the Persian/Arabian Gulf this includes changes due to the damming of the Tigris-Euphrates river system in Turkey and the drainage of the Iraqi marshes (Al-Yamani et al. 2007), chronic and acute (e.g., war-related) releases of oil, rapid large-scale coastal development (e.g. megastructures in the UAE), and changes to benthic communities from demersal trawling. Coastal land reclamation has accelerated in this area in recent years and, as a result, coastal reefs and other habitat have been destroyed. For example, this has resulted in the almost total loss of mangrove areas around Bahrain (Morgan 2006a).
In India, declines in general catch rates, biomass, recruitment and shifts in regular landing patterns in inshore fisheries have been linked to steep increases in the fisher population, number and efficiency of craft and gears, and associated fishing effort, as well as the degradation of coastal habitats (mangroves, coral reefs, etc.) caused by pollution of coastal waters, urbanisation, coastal developments, etc. (Morgan 2006b). Although no specific data are available it is reasonable to assume that this species has been impacted.
Commonly used in aquaria, e.g., in Kuwait (Tony McEwan, Kuwait Scientific Centre, pers. comm. to AB. Moore 30.9.2006), although this is not thought to represent a threat to populations.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
The Arabian carpetshark (Chiloscyllium arabicum) is a species of carpet shark in the family Hemiscylliidae, inhabiting coral reefs and other shallow coastal habitats from the Persian Gulf to India. Reaching 78 cm (31 in) long, this shark is characterized by a slender, plain brown body, and by two dorsal fins with straight trailing margins and the second smaller but longer-based than the first. The Arabian carpetshark feeds on bony fishes and invertebrates. Reproduction is oviparous with an annual cycle; females deposit egg capsules four at a time and the young hatch after 70–80 days. This small shark is often captured as bycatch but rarely used by humans. It has been assessed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as there is increasing fishing pressure and habitat degradation within its range. It does well in aquariums and has been bred in captivity.
Prior to being described as a new species in Gubanov and Schleib's 1980 Sharks of the Arabian Gulf [sic], the Arabian carpetshark was misreported as the grey bamboo shark (C. griseum); it is uncertain whether the ranges of these two similar sharks in fact overlap. No type specimens are known. Other common names for this species include Arabian bamboo shark and confusing bamboo shark.
Distribution and habitat
The Arabian carpetshark inhabits coastal waters 3–100 m (9.8–328.1 ft) deep, though most are found shallower than 10 m (33 ft). Its range extends from the Persian Gulf to Pakistan and western India; it is abundant in the Persian Gulf in spring and summer, and seldom reported from Oman and India. This demersal species favors coral reefs, lagoons, rocky coastlines, and mangrove estuaries.
The Arabian carpetshark has a slender, nearly cylindrical body and a relatively long, thick, rounded snout. The nostrils are set a good distance from the snout tip and preceded by a pair of short barbels. The eyes are medium-sized and placed high on the head, each with a low ridge above and a large spiracle behind and below. The small mouth lies well forward of the eyes; there is a continuous fold of skin across the chin that wraps around the corners of the mouth. There are 26–35 upper tooth rows and 21–32 lower tooth rows. The teeth have a large central cusp and a pair of lateral cusplets. The five pairs of gill slits are short, with the fourth and fifth pairs very close together.
The pectoral fins are small, broad, and rounded; the pelvic fins are similar and almost as large. The two dorsal fins have straight trailing margins and are spaced well apart. The first dorsal fin is as large or larger than the pelvic fins, originating behind the middle of the pelvic fin bases. The second dorsal fin is slightly smaller than the first but has a longer base. There is a prominent midline ridge along the back, which continues between the dorsal fins. The long, keel-like anal fin originates behind the second dorsal fin. The caudal fin is low and lacks a lower lobe; the upper lobe has a strong ventral notch near the tip. Adults are a plain tan color above and white below, sometimes with an orange tint on the fin margins; juveniles have faint lighter spots on the fins. This species reaches a maximum known length of 78 cm (31 in).
Biology and ecology
Commonly found sheltering inside caves and crevices, the Arabian carpetshark is a predator of bony fishes (including snake eels) and invertebrates (including stomatopods, shrimp, crabs, squid, gastropods, and echiuroid worms). This hardy species can survive for some time out of water. It is oviparous like other members of its family, with a six-month breeding season. The reproductive cycle has been documented in captivity: copulation involves the male holding onto one of the female's pectoral fins with his mouth, while inserting a single clasper into her cloaca for 5–15 minutes. When competing for mates, male sharks have been known to bite the claspers of rival males. Females produce an average of 33 egg capsules per year in batches of four, that are laid over a period of 20 minutes to two days. Of those eggs, about 7% are infertile. The egg cases have adhesive tendrils for securing them to coral, and hatch in 70–80 days at a temperature of 24 °C (75 °F). Newly emerged young measure under 10 cm (3.9 in) long; sexual maturity is attained at a length of 45–54 cm (18–21 in).
Small and harmless to humans, the Arabian carpetshark is one of the few shark species suitable for private aquaria. It is collected for the aquarium trade, which is not believed to pose a substantial threat to its population. The meat and possibly the fins of this shark can be used, but because of its size most individuals landed are discarded. It is captured incidentally in intertidal hadra (artisanal stake-net traps), as well as in demersal trammel and trawl nets. The Arabian carpetshark forms the predominant component of the "cat shark" catch of Kuwaiti prawn trawls, which represents the second-largest bycatch (14% of total) of the fishery. It is also caught off Bahrain and likely elsewhere. Another potentially major threat to this species is habitat degradation: coral reefs in the Persian Gulf face bottom trawling, coastal development (especially large-scale land reclamation projects such as in the United Arab Emirates), Turkish dams on the Tigris-Euphrates river system, draining of marshes in Iraq, and oil spills. Coastal habitats off India are also similarly pressured. As both fishing and habitat degradation are likely to intensify in the region, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed the Arabian carpetshark as Near Threatened.
- Moore, A.B.M. (2008). Chiloscyllium arabicum. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved January 31, 2010.
- Randall, J.E. and J.P. Hoover (1995). Coastal fishes of Oman. University of Hawaii Press. p. 22. ISBN 0-8248-1808-3
- Compagno, L.J.V. (2002). Sharks of the World: An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Shark Species Known to Date (Volume 2). Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. pp. 167–168. ISBN 92-5-104543-7.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2010). "Chiloscyllium arabicum" in FishBase. January 2010 version.
- Michael, S.W. (1993). Reef Sharks & Rays of the World. Sea Challengers. p. 43. ISBN 0-930118-18-9.
- Harahush, B.K., A.B.P. Fischer and S.P. Collin (October 2007). "Captive breeding and embryonic development of Chiloscyllium punctatum Muller & Henle, 1838 (Elasmobranchii: Hemiscyllidae)". Journal of Fish Biology 71 (4): 1007–1022.
- Michael, S.W. "Sharks at Home". Aquarium Fish Magazine March 2004: pp. 20–29.