Northern Draughtboard Swellshark, Cephaloscyllium variegatum Last & White 2008

Other Names: Saddled Swellshark

A Northern Draughtboard Shark, Cephaloscyllium variegatum. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A rare brownish to greyish swell shark with a variable pattern of 11 distinct or indistinct dark saddles along the body and tail. Juveniles lack saddle-like markings and are pale with many fine dark spots.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Cephaloscyllium variegatum in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 May 2024,

Northern Draughtboard Swellshark, Cephaloscyllium variegatum Last & White 2008

More Info


Endemic to eastern Australia, from off Rockingham Bay (Queensland) to off Tathra (New South Wales), and possibly on the Britannia Seamount off Queensland and New South Wales. Found on the outer continental shelf and upper slope in depths of 114–606 m.


A medium-sized Cephaloscyllium with the following combination of characters: head height 9.4–10.5% TL, trunk width 14.5–17.1% TL; first dorsalfin origin over or slightly behind mid pelvic-fin base; prenarial length 4.4–5.0% TL; preorbital snout length 1.5– 1.7 times prenarial length, 2.9–3.3 in prepectoral length, 6.4–7.2 in prepelvic length; long snout-vent length, 50.5– 52.9% TL; nostril width 2.4–2.6% TL; wide eye–spiracle space, 0.8–1.3% TL; large pectoral fin, height 12.9– 13.2% TL, posterior margin length 10.4–12.1% TL; anal fin height 3.5–4.1% TL; anal–caudal space 4.5–5.7% SL; precaudal length 76–78% TL; interdorsal space 6.5–8.0% TL; teeth near symphysis of upper jaw with 3–7 cusps; flank denticles mainly unicuspidate; no greatly enlarged denticles on back; adult clasper long, to 8.1% TL, almost reaching anal fin, interspace about 5.4 in anal-fin base; 116–124 vertebral centra; 68–82 teeth in each jaw.


Colour pattern variable: adults and juveniles dissimilar; adults with 11 distinct or indistinct dark saddle-like markings on body and tail; juveniles without saddles, instead with fine blackish spots; predorsal saddles not much wider than interspaces between them; interspiracular saddle width subequal to eye length; no obvious dark blotch over gill slits; fleshy portion of caudal fin appearing as a pale stripe, well demarcated from darker areas above and below.


A poorly known species, with very little known of its habitat and ecology. Swell sharks are egg layers (oviparous). Male Northern Draughtboard Swellsharks mature at 55–60 cm TL and the smallest free-swimming individual known measured 17 cm TL.


Although not targeted, the Northern Draughtboard Swellshark is taken as bycatch in commercial prawn and trawl fisheries in southern Queensland and New South Wales.


The specific name variegatum is from the Latin variegatus (= various) in reference to the strong intraspecific and ontogenetic variability in colour pattern and morphology among the specimens examined.

Species Citation

Cephaloscyllium variegatum Last & White 2008, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Paper No. 022: 60, figs 1-4. Type locality: east of Newcastle, New South Wales [32°58'S, 152°13'E]. 


Bray, D.J. 2020

Northern Draughtboard Swellshark, Cephaloscyllium variegatum Last & White 2008


Compagno, L.J.V. & V.H. Niem, 1998. Scyliorhinidae. Catsharks. p. 1279-1292. In K.E. Carpenter and V.H. Niem (eds.) FAOIdentification Guide for Fishery Purposes. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO, Rome. (as Cephaloscyllium Sp B & C)

Compagno, L.J.V., D. Dando & S. Fowler. 2005. A field guide to the sharks of the world. Harper Collins Publishing Ltd., London, 368 pp. (as Cephaloscyllium Sp B & C)

Graham, K.J., Andrew, N.L. & Hodgson, K.E. 2001. Changes in relative abundance of sharks and rays on Australian South East Fishery trawl grounds after twenty years of fishing. Marine and Freshwater Research 52: 549–561.

Kyne, P.M. & Barratt, P.J. 2019. Cephaloscyllium variegatum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T42707A68616530. Downloaded on 06 May 2020.

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and rays of Australia. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia. 513 pp. (asCephaloscyllium Sp B & C)

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Second Edition. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.

Last, P.R. & White, W.T. 2008. Two new Saddled Swellsharks (Cephalosyllium: Scyliorhinidae) from eastern Australia. CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Paper 22: 159–170.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37015031

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Depth:115-605 m

Max Size:74 cm TL


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