Brownbanded bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium punctatum)

Juvenile brownbanded bamboo shark, bands starting to fade
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Brownbanded bamboo shark fact file

Brownbanded bamboo shark description

GenusChiloscyllium (1)

The brownbanded bamboo shark is an extremely hardy species, with a slender body and a thick, elongate tail. While the adults are light brown and lack an obvious colour pattern, juveniles are distinctly marked with bold dark transverse bands and a few scattered spots (2) (3). Like all bamboo sharks (Hemiscylliidae), the paired pectoral and pelvic fins are muscular and leg-like, ideal for clambering over reefs and into crevices (2) (4).

Also known as
Brown-spotted catshark, grey carpet shark, spotted catshark.
Max length: 105 cm (2)

Brownbanded bamboo shark biology

Despite being relatively common, as a solitary, unobtrusive species, the brownbanded bamboo shark is not frequently seen (2). Juveniles typically hide in reef crevices, where their broad banding pattern provides excellent camouflage (1) (3). Feeding mainly at night, the brownbanded bamboo shark excavates the sediment in search of a diverse array of prey, from crabs and polychaete worms to shrimps and small fish. With the ability to survive a complete tidal cycle exposed out of the water, it commonly forages in the intertidal zone and in shallow tidal pools on coral or rocky reefs (1) (2) (3).

The brownbanded bamboo shark reproduces oviparously, with the eggs deposited in small rounded cases on the sea floor (1) (2) (3). The developing embryos feed solely on the yolk within the case until they hatch (3).


Brownbanded bamboo shark range

The brownbanded bamboo shark has an Indo-West Pacific distribution, from India east to Japan and south to the northern coast of Australia (1) (2) (3).


Brownbanded bamboo shark habitat

Found on coral reefs and on sandy and muddy substrates from the intertidal zone down to depths of up to 85 metres. Owing to its ability to tolerate extremely hypoxic conditions, this species is often found on coral reef flats and in tidal pools (1) (2) (3).


Brownbanded bamboo shark status

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened


Brownbanded bamboo shark threats

Both commercial and traditional fisheries target the brownbanded bamboo shark for human consumption over large parts of its range (1) (2) (3). This is compounded by the widespread degradation of coral reef habitat resulting from destructive fishing practices and pollution (1) (3). While collection for the aquarium trade is an additional concern, owing to the hardiness of the species and its tendency to breed prolifically in captivity, the impact is thought to be relatively minor (1) (2) (3).


Brownbanded bamboo shark conservation

The brownbanded bamboo shark is currently only protected on the east coast of Australia where it occurs in several marine parks (1).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

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Low oxygen levels.
Method of reproduction in which eggs are laid and embryos develop outside of the mother's body.
In reference to the pectoral fins, the pair of fins that are found one on each side of the body just behind the gills. They are generally used for balancing and braking.
Pelvic fins
In fish, the pair of fins found on the underside of the body.
Polychaete worms
Polychaeta means ‘many bristled'; this class of worms are segmented and bear many ‘chaetae' (bristles).


  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2009)
  2. Compagno, L.J.V. (1984) FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 4: Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Part 1: Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
  3. Florida Museum of Natural History (July, 2009)
  4. Campbell, A. and Dawes, J. (2004) Encyclopedia of Underwater Life. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Image credit

Juvenile brownbanded bamboo shark, bands starting to fade  
Juvenile brownbanded bamboo shark, bands starting to fade

© Doug Perrine /

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