IUCN threat status:

Critically Endangered (CR)

Comprehensive Description

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Haploblepharus kistnasamyisp. nov.

(Figs. 2-5, Table 1)

Haploblepharus edwardsii Smith, 1949:54 (in part); Smith, 1950:879 (in part); Bass et al., 1975: 17 (in part); Compagno, 1984b: 332 (in part); Bass, 1986: 91 (in part); Compagno, 1988: 151 (in part); Compagno et al., 1989: 50 (in part).

Haploblepharus sp. nov. : Compagno, 1999: 98, 119.

Haploblepharus spA : Compagno & Human, 2003: 12; Compagno et al., 2005: 236, pl. 40; Human et al., 2006: 389.

Type Series and Locality. Holotype , RUSI 39835, adolescent female 415mm TL, from Landers Reef off Park Rynie, kwaZulu-Natal , South Africa ( 30°19’S30°47’E ), Station 1- 92-9 “Albacore”, collected by C. Buxton on 5th August , 1992, in excellent condition (Figs. 2-3) . Paratypes , RUSI 6075, previously ORI 2424, mature male 504mm TL, from Zinkwazi, kwaZulu-Natal , South Africa ( 29°17’S31°25’E ), jaws removed, otherwise in excellent condition (Fig. 4) . RUSI 6077 (previously ORI 2574), mature female, 481mm TL, from Umvoti, kwaZulu-Natal , South Africa ( 29°22’S30°17’E ), jaws removed, otherwise in excellent condition, (Fig. 5) .

Additional Non-type Specimens. MJS 970714, 2 specimens, juvenile female 334mm TL, juvenile male, 354mm TL ; RUSI 14005, 2 specimens, one of which is referable to H. fuscus ZBK , H. kistnasamyi specimen is a juvenile female, 401mm TL, Cape Recife, Eastern Cape , South Africa , 34°01'S25°42'E ; RUSI 26156, embryonic female 58.5mm TL, Boknes Beach, Alexandria Coast, Eastern Cape , South Africa , 33°43'S26°35'E ; RUSI 26934, adolescent female 400mm TL, R.V. Africana Cruise 48, A4760 036-1051, off Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape , South Africa , 34°04'S23°24'E ; RUSI 26937, juvenile male 315mm TL, R.V. Africana Cruise 48, A4760 036-1051, off Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape , South Africa ; RUSI 26939, juvenile female 318mm TL, R.V. Africana Cruise 48, A4760 036-1051, off Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape , South Africa ; RUSI 26964, juvenile female 226mm TL, R.V. Africana Cruise 48, A4752 030-1039, Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape , South Africa , 34°15'S23°04'E ; RUSI 26965, juvenile female 218mm TL, R.V. Africana Cruise 48, A4752 030-1039, Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape , South Africa ; RUSI 48494, embryonic female 104mm TL, Algoa Bay, Eastern Cape , South Africa , 34°02'S25°42'E ; RUSI 48496, previously ORI 7227, juvenile female 106mm TL, East London, Eastern Cape , South Africa , 33°00'S27°55'E ; SAM 29884, 2 specimens, juvenile males 121mm TL & 183mm TL, reef 2km off Bird Rock, Algoa Bay, Eastern Cape , South Africa , 33°51.5'S26°16.6'E ; SAM 32527, 4 specimens, juvenile females, 346mm TL, 373mm TL, 376mm TL & 438mm TL, Storms River Mouth, Eastern Cape , South Africa , 34°01.3'S23°54.7'E ; SAM 32553, 2 specimens, juvenile males 362mm TL & 381mm TL, Storms River Mouth, Eastern Cape , South Africa ; SAM 32554, juvenile male 332mm TL, Storms River Mouth, Eastern Cape , South Africa . Comparative material of other species are listed in Appendix 2.

Diagnosis. H. kistnasamyi has a slender body; snout acutely rounded, sometimes coming to a point; head and trunk slightly depressed; whereas caudal peduncle slightly compressed. Background dorsal colouration is pale brown to brown, becoming paler laterally, with 8 or 9 saddles, 2 or 3 before 1st dorsal fin, one on 1st dorsal fin, one between dorsal fins, one on second dorsal fin, one on caudal peduncle, and 2 on caudal fin; saddle centres darker than background colouration, margins darker than saddle centres, with white spots present only on saddles, particularly laterally, giving a blotchy effect there; background colouration extending to dorsal surface of pectoral and pelvic fins, as well as anal fin; saddles not extending to dorsal surface of pectoral and pelvic fins. Ventral colouration usually abruptly uniform white to pale cream, or yellow to dull grey brown (probable preservation artefact), dorsal background colouration present on fin webs of pectoral and pelvic fins, or not (probable preservation artefact), pectoral and pelvic fin webs darker when the latter is true.

Description. Morphometric and meristic data are given in Table 1. Holotype, adolescent female 415mm TL (paratypes, mature male 504mm TL, mature female 481mm TL): head length 1.1 (1.2, 1.0) times the pectoral-pelvic space; head only slightly depressed, snout convexly pointed, preoral length 0.5 (1.7, 0.5) times the mouth width; eyes dorsolateral on head with rudimentary nictitating lower eyelids (Compagno, 1970), eye length 0.2 (0.2, 0.2) times head length and 2.0 (2.1, 1.6) times eye width; spiracle length 0.2 (0.3, 0.2) times eye length; anterior nasal lobes expanded and fused into a flap that is united across the ventral midline and extends to the upper labium, excurrent nasal apertures covered by nasal curtain, width of nasal curtain 1.8 (1.7, 2.0) times the nostril width; basimandibular cartilage found at the symphysis of the Meckels’ cartilage in the lower jaw, mouth width 0.7 (0.7, 0.8) times the head width at the pectoral fin origin, upper labial furrow length 0.5 (0.5, 0.5) times the mouth length, labial cartilages present; dental formula (holotype only) - upper jaw L 28, R 29; lower jaw L 28, R 29, no toothless spaces at the symphysis of either jaw, teeth undifferentiated either between jaws or along the jaw; body slender with trunk not depressed, trunk length 1.2 (1.0, 1.2) times head length, no dorsal, lateral or ventral ridges along body; caudal peduncle short and compressed, distance from pelvic insertion to ventral origin of caudal fin 0.4 (0.4, 0.4) times the precaudal length; peduncle height 1.9 (1.5, 1.4) its width; pectoral fins broad and roundedtriangular, their height 1.6 (1.7, 1.8) times their base length and 2.3 (1.4, 2.2) times the height of the pelvic fins, pectoral fin radials extending 0.4 (0.7, 0.7) along the length of the anterior margin; pelvic fins roughly triangular, their height 0.5 (0.9, 0.7) times their base length, claspers of the mature male paratype are long and stout, inner length 7.3 times the base; first dorsal fin with rounded apex, posterior margin straight and free rear tip angular, height 0.7 (0.8, 0.9) times the base length, base length 0.5 (0.5, 0.5) times the interdorsal space; second dorsal fin similarly shaped to first dorsal fin, slightly smaller, height 0.6 (0.7, 0.6) times the base length and 1.0 (0.9, 0.9) times the height of the first dorsal fin; anal fin roughly triangular and moderately high, height 0.4 (0.5, 0.5) times the length of the base, fin length 0.9 (0.9, 0.9) times the distance from the anal fin insertion to the ventral origin of the caudal fin; caudal fin with weakly developed and broadly rounded ventral lobe, minimal inflexion of the caudal vertebrae, dorsal margin 2.1 (2.5, 2.0) times the distance from the insertion of the second dorsal fin to the dorsal origin of the caudal fin, upper post-ventral caudal fin margin 1.8 (1.7, 2.1) times the length of the terminal caudal fin margin; vertebral counts -33 (32, 32) monospondylous, 60 (63, 61) precaudal diplospondylous and 40 (38, 40) caudal diplospondylous, no stutter zone apparent between monospondylous and diplospondylous vertebrae, spiral valve turns -6 (N/A, N/A).

Comparison with other species. H. kistnasamyi has the least depressed head and trunk of the Haploblepharus ZBK sharks (Fig. 6) and further differs from other species in having a preoral length less than 3 times the head width at pectoral origin (more than 3.5 times in other members of the genus) and a slightly compressed caudal peduncle. Haploblepharus kistnasamyi is most similar to H. edwardsii in morphology (including its narrowly pointed head) and colouration but has a stockier, less depressed body, has less defined saddle-marks without discrete red centers, and has longer, stouter claspers (similar to those of H. fuscus ZBK and H. pictus ). H. kistnasamyi differs from H. fuscus ZBK and H. pictus in averaging fewer tooth rows and spiral valve turns (8 turns in H. fuscus ZBK , 7 turns in H. pictus ); from H. fuscus ZBK by its more complex colour pattern with bold dark markings on the fins as well as body); and from H. pictus by its mouth length about equal to prenarial length (mouth length greater than prenarial length in H. pictus ).

Common name. The common name, happy chappy, has been suggested in Compagno & Human (2003). Otherwise known as the Natal or eastern shyshark.

Size. Maximum known 504 mm total length (adult male). Females adult at 481 mm, adolescent at 400 and 415 mm, juvenile at 106 to 402 mm. Males adult at 504 mm, juvenile at 121 to 354 mm, adolescents unknown. Embryos 59-104 mm, hatchling size presumably about 100-110 mm. The weights of the type material are: 316.1g (holotype, 415mm), 512.7g (paratype, 504mm), and 438.7g (paratype, 481mm).

Distribution and Habitat. H. kistnasamyi is the most northeasterly ranging Haploblepharus ZBK shark (Fig. 7) and, as currently known, is a South African endemic species. Adults have been found in northern kwaZulu-Natal in shallow warm subtropical water on the continental shelf from the intertidal to 30 m depth. Individuals tentatively assigned as the juveniles of this species (Human, 2003, in prep.) occur in the Eastern Cape to west of Mossel Bay, Western Cape, and occur inshore, usually close to the coastline. The conservation status of this species needs to be investigated because of its rarity and potential vulnerability to fisheries (including angling) and intensive habitat modification and destruction in its known range.

Etymology. Named in honour of Nat Kistnasamy of the Oceanographic Research Institute, Durban, in recognition for his outstanding efforts and pioneering work in the systematics and taxonomy of the chondrichthyan fauna of southern Africa.

Remarks. Bass et al. (1975) recognised and illustrated two forms of H. edwardsii , the “Cape” form and the “Natal” form. H. kistnasamyi is equivalent to their “Natal” form of H. edwardsii and the paratypes are the specimens used by them in their description of the “Natal” form. They also illustrated the female paratype (RUSI 6077). Bass et al. (1975) found the two forms to be morphologically identical, differing only in colour pattern. However, H. kistnasamyi can be distinguished from H. edwardsii in having a noticeably less depressed body, which is stockier than that of H. edwardsii (Fig. 6). Compagno (1988) noted that H. kistnasamyi possibly had fewer monospondylous vertebrae than H. edwardsii , although this proved not to be the case in the current study and with a larger sample available.

Although Bass et al. (1975) were the first to distinguish this species, Smith (1950) illustrated a juvenile under the name H. edwardsii , which agrees with the specimen RUSI 48496, an embryonic female (yolk sac still attached, although minute), 107mm TL.

The proportions given by Bass et al. (1975) are mostly referable to H. edwardsii and cannot be used as a comparison for the morphometrics of the current study. The holotype of H. kistnasamyi has 6 spiral valve turns, compared to 6 or 7 turns in H. edwardsii , 8 or 9 turns in H. fuscus ZBK , and 7 turns in H. pictus .

The biology of H. kistnasamyi is virtually unknown. Egg-cases not known, but presumably oviparous as with other species of Haploblepharus ZBK .

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