Creature Feature: Port Jackson Shark

Port Jackson Richard Ling

 The Port Jackson Shark (Heterodontus portusjacksoni) enjoys the waters off the southern coast of Australia. A characteristic mark on these sharks is a harness-like pattern which starts in front of the first dorsal (top) fin and continues to the pectoral (side) fins. They also have spines protruding from the dorsal fins, a blunt nose, and crests above each eye.

These sharks can be found in depths up to approximately 900 feet. During the day they typically find refuge in caves or other structures for protection against strong currents. During the mating season, August through November, they migrate to distinct shallow areas where they lay their eggs. They are able to lay 16 eggs during the mating season and can lay a pair of eggs every 14 days. These sharks also migrate to feeding sites.

Check out this video of a Port Jackson Shark transporting an egg case

Like the Epaulette sharks, Port Jackson sharks are nocturnal and feed on invertebrates such as sea urchins and large gastropods by chewing instead of swallowing their food whole like many other sharks. Port Jackson Sharks have also been shown to consume human waste; orange peels and potatoes have been found in the stomachs of the Port Jackson Shark.

Join us next week as we continue learning about sharks that can be found off the coast of Australia. 

Edited by Felicia Van Stolk

Photography Credit: Richard Ling

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