Gummy Shark, Mustelus antarcticus Günther 1870

Other Names: Australian Smooth Hound, Eastern Spotted Gummy Shark, Flake, Smooth Dog-shark, Sweet William, Whitespotted Gummy Shark, White-spotted Gummy Shark

A Gummy Shark, Mustelus antarcticus. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved


A relatively small slender grey to greyish-brown shark, often with white spots scattered over the back. The Gummy Shark, along with the School Shark (Galeorhinus galeus) provides much of the 'flake' sold in fish and chips shops in southern Australia.

Video of Gummy Sharks in Point Cooke Marine Sanctuary, Port Phillip, Victoria

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Mustelus antarcticus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Apr 2024,

Gummy Shark, Mustelus antarcticus Günther 1870

More Info


Endemic to eastern and southern Australia from off Hinchinbrook Island, to Geraldton, Western Australia, including Tasmania. 
The Gummy Shark inhabits estuaries, coastal and continental slope waters, at a depths to 400 m, usually at depths to 80 m.


Vertebrae 125–133 (79–86 precaudal); Jaw teeth (upper) 31-35 : 31-35; Jaw teeth (lower) 37-42 : 37-42 

Body elongate; caudal peduncle without keels or precaudal pits; head slightly flattened above and below; snout moderately long, its tip bluntly pointed; nostrils not connected to mouth by a groove, internasal distance broad (2.6--3.2% TL); eyes oval; spiracles present; upper labial furrows noticeably longer than lower; teeth asymmetric, flattened, each with low primary cusp, arranged in pavement-like pattern; five gill slits, last two above pectoral fin.

Denticles on body lanceolate with 2-5 ridges which extend at least half distance to tips; low interdorsal ridge usually present.

Two dorsal fins, origin of first over inner corner of pectoral fin, origin of second dorsal anterior to anal-fin origin; caudal fin herterocercal, upper lobe with moderate sub-terminal notch, distal flap slightly enlarged, lower lobe of fin small; pectoral fin short, angular, hind margin slightly concave.


Grey to greyish-brown above, often with small white spots which may or may not be very conspicuous.


Feeds mostly on cephalopods and crustaceans, but also on bony fishes.


Female Gummy Sharks grow to a total length (TL) of 185 cm, and body mass of 24.8 kg; males to 148 cm TL and 13.5 kg. 

The species is aplacental viviparous (ovoviviparous) usually with litters of 14 pups, although large females may produce up to 57 young per litter. The pups are born at 30–35 cm after an 11–12 month gestation period. Males mature at about 80 cm and females at about 85 cm. Tagging and ageing studies indicate that the maximum life span in 16 years. 


An abundant and extremely important species in the southern Australian commercial shark fishery, and marketed as flake. Gummy Sharks are harvested over their entire range, although about two-thirds of the catch is taken from Bass Strait. They are highly prized by sports fishers for their fighting abilities and the flesh is excellent eating.


The common name "Gummy Shark" refers to the flattened teeth arranged in a mosaic pattern.

Similar Species

Very similar in appearance to Mustelus manazo which is found on Australia’s Northwest Shelf. Also similar to the New Zealand species Mustelus lenticulatus.

Species Citation

Mustelus antarcticus Günther, 1870, Cat. Fish. British Mus. 8: 387. Type locality: "Southern Pacific"  (= New South Wales or Tasmania).


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Gummy Shark, Mustelus antarcticus Günther 1870


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Waite, E.R. 1899. Scientific results of the trawling expedition of H.M.C.S. Thetis off the coast of New South Wales. Memoirs of the Australian Museum 4: 1-132 figs 1-10 pls 1-31 (as Galeus antarcticus)

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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37017001

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-400 m

Fishing:Commercial, recreational fish

Habitat:Bays, coastal waters

Max Size:185 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map