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Epaulette Shark

Hemiscyllium ocellatum

Fast Facts

  • It has large false eyespots behind its head to appear bigger than it actually is
  • This eyespot resembles shoulder ornaments on military uniforms, which is how this shark got its common name
  • The muscular pectoral fins help it walk from tide pool to tide pool and through shallow water
  • Most sharks swallow their prey whole, but epaulette sharks bite off small pieces and chew before swallowing
Epaulette Sharking swimming in a tide pool.



Indo-Pacific Ocean


Marine neritic (shallow, coastal waters)


27 to 35 inches


Bony fish, shrimp, crab, worms


Epaulette sharks are slender and eel-shaped. Like other carpet sharks, they have very short snouts. Epaulette sharks are creamy light brown with dark brown dots covering their bodies. Their teeth are small and not very sharp.


Epaulette sharks are nocturnal and spend most of their time in coral reefs hiding from predators. Because they are wary of their many predators, they will swim or crawl away if most other animals approach them.


Epaulette sharks reach sexual maturity once they grow to around 24 inches long. When mating, the male bites the female’s fins to hold the two together. The fertilized eggs do not need care from their parents as they incubate in warm water. After about 120 days, the egg opens and the young shark swims away. Females can produce up to 50 egg cases in a year.

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