Weasel Shark, Hemigaleus australiensis White, Last & Compagno 2005

Other Names: Australian Weasel Shark, Sickelfin Weasel Shark

A Weasel Shark, Hemigaleus australiensis. Source: CSIRO National Fish Collection. License: CC BY Attribution

A medium-sized greyish to bronze shark with a pale underside, a conspicuous dark tip on the second dorsal fin, and a pale posterior margin on the first dorsal fin.
This species was previously known as Hemigaleus microstoma.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Hemigaleus australiensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jul 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/3258

Weasel Shark, Hemigaleus australiensis White, Last & Compagno 2005

More Info


Geraldton, Western Australia, to Brunswick Heads, New South Wales; also southern Papua New Guinea. Inhabits insular and continental shelves from inshore bays to depths of 170 m.


No interdorsal ridge; second dorsal fin at least half the height of the first dorsal fin; second dorsal-fin origin much closer to the anal fin-origin than to the free rear tips of the pelvic fins. Upper jaw teeth with one edge coarsely-serrated (comb-like), and the other edge smooth; notch present at rear corner of each almond-shaped eye; spiracles present.
Medium-sized shark with moderately long head; dorsal fins slightly raked back, moderately or not falcate, moderately low; height of first dorsal fin 2.6-3 in head length (HL); length of first dorsal fin 2.1-2.4 times its height; caudal-fin upper lobe moderately broad, not elongate; caudal-fin ventral lobe short, preventral margin 9.3-9.8% TL; pectoral fins broad, falcate, base length 2.1-2.4 in preventral caudal margin.
Claspers of adults moderately short, inner length 5.4-5.6% TL, 1.8-1.8 in pelvic midpoint to first dorsal-fin insertion. 
Teeth in 28-30/46-52 rows; precaudal vertebral centra 65-70, total vertebral centra 112-121. 


Males attain sexual maturity at about 60 cm TL; females at 60-65 cm TL. The young are born at about 30 cm TL.


Although commonly caught in prawn and fish trawl fisheries, and in gillnet and longline fisheries, the species is not taken in large numbers.


The species is named australiensis in reference to the its geographic range off tropical Australia.

Species Citation

Hemigaleus australiensis White, Last & Compagno 2005, Zootaxa 1077: 40, fig. 1. Type locality: north-west of Geraldton, WA.


Dianne J. Bray


Australian Faunal Directory

Weasel Shark, Hemigaleus australiensis White, Last & Compagno 2005


Blaber, S.J.M., Brewer, D.T. & Harris, A.N. 1994. Distribution, biomass and community structure of demersal fishes of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Aust. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 45(3): 375-396. (as Hemigaleus microstoma)

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Carcharhiniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125. Rome : FAO Vol. 4(2) 251-655 pp. (as Hemigaleus microstoma)

Compagno, L.J.V. 1998. Family Hemigaleidae. pp. 1305-1311 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds) The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 2 687-1396 pp. (as Hemigaleus sp. microstoma)

Compagno, L.J.V., Dando, M. & Fowler, S. 2005. A Field Guide to the Sharks of the World. London : Collins 368 pp. (as Hemigaleus sp. A)

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls (as Hemigaleus microstoma)

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 to Commercial Fishers. Sydney : New South Wales Department of Primary Industry pp. 71.

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1984. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls. (as Hemigaleus microstoma)

Salini, J.P., Blaber, S.J. & Brewer, D.T. 1992. Diets of sharks from estuaries and adjacent waters of the north-eastern Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Aust. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 43(1): 87-96. (as Hemigaleus microstoma)

Simpfendorfer, C., White, W.T. & Smart, J.J. 2016. Hemigaleus australiensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T161539A68624897. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T161539A68624897.en. Downloaded on 05 September 2016.

White, W.T., Last, P.R. & Compagno, L.J.V. 2005. Description of a new species of weasel shark, Hemigaleus australiensis n. sp. (Carcharhiniformes: Hemigaleidae) from Australian waters. Zootaxa 1077: 37-49.

Whitley, G.P. 1940. The Fishes of Australia. Part 1. The sharks, rays, devil-fish, and other primitive fishes of Australia and New Zealand. Sydney : Roy. Zool. Soc. N.S.W. 280 pp. 303 figs. (as Negogaleus microstoma)

Yates, P.M. & Heupel, M.R. & Tobon, A.J. & Moore, S.K. & Simpfendorfer, C.A. (2015) Diversity in immature-shark communities along a tropical coastline. Marine and Freshwater Research 66 (5): 399-410  DOI: 10.1071/MF14033 Abstract

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37018020

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-170 m

Max Size:110 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map