Monday, August 13, 2012

Horn Shark

Heterodontus francisci
Today's Shark is a very interesting looking species-- it has a very blunt head, prominent ridges over its eyes, two tall dorsal fins with spines, and a sandy colored body covered in dark spots. It also happens to be on the smaller side, though not as small as yesterday's Shark. Horn Sharks can reach lengths of around 3ft.

You can find Horn Sharks swimming off of the western coast of North America, in a range that extends from Monterey to Baja. As juveniles they live in deeper sandy flats, and as adults they move closer to shore, swimming near reefs as shallow as 2m!

The adult Horn Sharks have small ranges, and actually return to the same shelter after each night of hunting (they are nocturnal). They feed in small fish and a large variety of benthic invertebrates, including squid, crabs, and sea urchins. Interestingly, Horn Sharks aren't the greatest swimmers, and are quite slow and clumsy. They often use their large pectoral fins to pull themselves along.

Horn Sharks are one of those cool Shark species that shows some sort of care towards their offspring. After mating takes place in December or January, the female will spend 2-3 months laying her eggs two at a time (layings are spaced 11-14 days apart). Each egg measures 4-5in long, is conical in shape and has spiraled flanges around it. The females will take the eggs and wedge them into crevices so that they are protected from predators (other sharks will often just lay their eggs and leave). The eggs take 6-9 months to hatch.

Horns Sharks are not normally dangerous to humans, though bites have happened due to harassment. The Sharks are kept and bred in captivity, and are sometimes hunted for their spines (which are made into jewelry).

IUCN Status : Data Deficient
Location : Western North America
Size : Length up to 3.3ft (1m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Chondrichthyes -- Order : Heterodontiformes
Family : Heterodontidae -- Genus : Heterodontus -- Species : H. francisci

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure that that shark appreciates being described as having a 'blunt head'! ;)


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