Port Jackson Shark, Heterodontus portusjacksoni (Meyer 1793)


Other Names: Bullhead, Bullhead Shark, Dogshark, Horn Shark, Oyster Crusher, Oyster-crusher, Pigfish, Tabbigaw

A group of Portjackson Sharks, Heterodontus portusjacksoni, at Nepean Bay, Port Phillip, Victoria. Source: Mark Norman / Museum Victoria. License: CC by Attribution

Summary:
A small to medium-sized bottom-dwelling shark with the following identifying features:
  • Head large, robust with a blunt snout and a low ridge over each eye
  • Two triangular dorsal fins, each with a strong spine, and a small anal fin
  • Body light greyish to brown, with dark harness-like markings 
  • Jaws with sharp grasping teeth at the front, and flat grinding molars at the rear. 
  • Port Jackson sharks lay dark brown spiral egg cases. While the eggs are still soft, the females wedge them into crevices for protection, and the young hatch after about one year.

    Video of Port Jackson Sharks during the breeding season in Cabbage Tree Bay, Sydney, New South Wales. The second shark in the video is a Crested Port Jackson Shark.

    Video of Port Jackson Sharks in Sydney, New South Wales.


    Cite this page as:
    Bray, D.J. 2017, Heterodontus portusjacksoni in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Nov 2018, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1982

    Port Jackson Shark, Heterodontus portusjacksoni (Meyer 1793)

    More Info


    Distribution

    Widespread in the southern half of Australia, inhabiting rocky reefs and adjacent sandy and seagrass areas, to a depth of 275 m. The species is nocturnal, and individuals usually shelter in caves and under ledges during the day.

    Males and females aggregate in large numbers in gutters and caves during the winter breeding season.

    Features

    Vertebrae: 114 (precaudal 76-81)

    Body stout, deepest immediately behind head, tapering towards tail; keels and precaudal pits on caudal peduncle absent. Head very blunt, robust, moderately large (approx. 23% TL), low ridge over each eye, sloping gently behind; nostrils connected to mouth by deep groove; eyes oval; spiracles small; mouth small, subterminal; upper and lower jaws with sharp grasping teeth anteriorly and flat grinding teeth behind; five gill slits, last three above pectoral fin. 

    Two dorsal fins, each with a strong spine, second only slightly smaller than first; anal fin small, below and immediately behind second dorsal; caudal fin heterocercal, upper lobe slightly larger than lower, with distinct subterminal notch. Pectoral fins large, broad. Pelvic-fin base below interdorsal space.

    Size

    To 1.7 m.

    Colour

    Body light greyish to brownish with dark harness-like markings on the body.

    Feeding

    Carnivores with small sharp teeth in the front of the jaws and molars at the rear, used for grabbing then crushing their prey of molluscs, crustaceans, echinoderms and fishes. Port Jackson sharks are nocturnal and usually forage at night.

    Biology

    Port Jackson sharks congregate under ledges, and in gutters and caves during late winter to breed. The species is oviparous (egg-layers), and females lay 10-16 leathery spiral egg cases, which they wedge into crevices and caves on shallow rocky reefs.

    The egg cases are soft when laid, and females wedge them into crevices for protection while the embryos develop. The young hatch at about 23 cm after about a year.

    Fisheries

    Although not targeted, Port Jackon sharks are frequently taken in demersal gillnet and trawl fisheries in southern Australia. They are discarded (often alive) as the flesh and fins are considered to be of poor quality. They are also caught by recreational anglers.

    Port Jackon sharks are also popular exhibits in aquaria, with commercial collecting is controlled by government legislation.

    Conservation

  • EPBC Act 1999 : Not listed
  • IUCN Red List : Least e
  • Remarks

    Although not considered dangerous, the dorsal-fin spines are venomous and Portjackson Sharks should be handled with care. They also have small sharp teeth at the front of their jaws and may be aggressive if provoked.

    Similar Species

    The Crested Horn Shark, Heterodontus galeatus, has large prominent crests above the eyes, and lacks the dark harness-like markings on the sides.

    Etymology

    The species is named for the type locality, Port Jackson.

    Species Citation

    Squalus portusjacksoni Meyer, 1793, Systematisch-summarische Uebersicht der neuesten zoologischen Entdeckungen in Neuholland und Afrika:71.
    Type locality: Port Jackson

    Author

    Bray, D.J. 2017

    Resources


    Port Jackson Shark, Heterodontus portusjacksoni (Meyer 1793)

    References


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  • Christie, A. 2015. Account of a mass aggregation of Port Jackson sharks Heterodontus portusjacksoni at Point Cooke Marine Sanctuary, Victoria, Australia. The Victorian Naturalist 132(4): 108-117. Abstract
  • Clark, J.A., Brown, C., Gillings, M.R. et al. 2017. Characterization of 12 polymorphic microsatellite loci in the Port Jackson Shark, Heterodontus portusjacksoni (Meyer, 1793). Marine Biodiversity 4pp. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12526-017-0772-6 Abstract
  • Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.
  • Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125. Rome : FAO Vol. 4(1) pp. 1-249.
  • Compagno, L.J.V. 2001. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks (Heterodontiformes, Lamniformes and Orectolobiformes). Rome : FAO, FAO Species Catalogue for Fisheries Purposes No. 1 Vol. 2 269 pp.
  • Compagno, L.J.V., Dando, M. & Fowler, S. 2005. A Field Guide to the Sharks of the World. London : Collins 368 pp.
  • Fowler, S.L., Cavanagh, R.D., Camhi, M., Burgess, G.H., Cailliet, G.M., Fordham, S.V., Simpfendorfer, C.A. and Musick, J.A. (comps and eds). 2005. Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras: The Status of the Chondrichthyan Fishes. Status Survey. pp. x + 461. IUCN/SSC Shark Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  • Glover, C.J.M. 1994. Families Petromyzontidae, Myxinidae, Hexanchidae, Heterodontidae. pp. 82-90 figs 17-26 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.
  • Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.
  • Izzo, C. & Rodda, K.R. 2012. Comparative rates of growth of the Port Jackson shark throughout its southern Australian range. Marine and Freshwater Research 63: 687-694.
  • Izzo, C., Rodda, K., Bolton, T. & Svane, I. 2006. Age and growth the Port Jackson shark (Heterodontus portusjacksoni) from the Spencer Gulf of South Australia. In Prawn Fishery By-catch and Discards: marine ecosystem analysis - populations effects (Svane, I., ed.): Final Report on FRDC Project 2003/023.
  • Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2):709-762. Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.
  • Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls.
  • Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia 2, 550 pp.
  • Macbeth, W.G., Vandenberg, M. & Graham, K.J. 2008. Identifying Sharks and Rays; a Guide for Commercial Fishers. Sydney : New South Wales Department of Primary Industry 71 pp.
  • McLaughin, R.H. and O?Gower, A.K. 1971. Life history and underwater studies of a heterodont shark. Ecological Monographs 41(4): 271-289
  • Meyer, F.A. 1793. Systematisch-summarische Uebersicht der neuesten zoologischen Entdeckungen in Neuholland und Afrika. Leipzig : Dykirchen 178 pp.
  • Mills, M., Rasch, R., Siebeck, U.E., Collin, S.P. 2011. Exogenous Material in the Inner Ear of the Adult Port Jackson Shark, Heterodontus portusjacksoni (Elasmbranchii). Anatomica Record 294: 373-378.
  • Ogilby, J.D. 1908. On new genera and species of fishes. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 21: 1-26
  • Pope, E. 1938. The anatomy of Heterodontus portusjacksoni (Meyer, 1793). Part I. The nervous system. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 63(5-6): 412-430.
  • Powter, D.W. & W. Gladstone. 2008. Embryonic mortality and predation on egg capsules of the Port Jackson shark Heterodontus portusjacksoni (Meyer). Journal of Fish Biology 72(3): 573-584.
  • Rodda, K.R. & R.S. Seymour. 2008.  Functional morphology of embryonic development in the Port Jackson shark Heterodontus portusjacksoni (Meyer) J. Fish Biol. 72: 961-984.
  • Ryan LA, Hart NS, Collin SP, Hemmi JM. 2016. Visual resolution and contrast sensitivity in two benthic sharks. Journal of Experimental Biology :  doi: 10.1242/jeb.132100 Abstract
  • Simpfendorfer, C. 2005. Heterodontus portusjacksoni. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 26 July 2012.
  • Stead, D.G. 1963. Sharks and Rays of Australian Seas. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 211 pp. 63 figs.
  • Tovar-Ávila, J., Day, R.W. & Walker, T.I. 2010. Using rapid assessment and demographic methods to evaluate the effects of fishing on Heterodontus portusjacksoni off far eastern Victoria, Australia. Journal of Fish Biology 77: 1564–1578.
  • Tovar-Ávila, J., Izzo, C., Walker, T.I., Braccini, J.M. & Day, R.W. 2009. Assessing growth band counts from vertebrae and dorsal-fin spines for ageing sharks: comparison of four methods applied to Heterodontus portusjacksoni. Marine and Freshwater Research 60: 898-903.
  • Tovar-Ávila, J., Izzo, C., Walker, T.I., Braccini, J.M. & Day, R.W. 2008. Dorsal-fin spine growth of Heterodontus portusjacksoni: a general model that applies to dorsal-fin spines of chondrichthyans? Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 65: 74-82.
  • White, W. 2008. Shark Families Heterodontidae to Pristiophoridae. pp. 32-100 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.
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  • Quick Facts


    CAAB Code:37007001

    Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

    Danger:Venomous spines

    Depth:1-275 m

    Habitat:Reef associated

    Max Size:1.7 m, usually less than 1 m

    Species Image Gallery

    Species Maps

    CAAB distribution map