Blind Shark

The Blind Sharks are one of two species of carpet sharks in the family Brachaeluridae, along with the bluegrey carpetshark (Heteroscyllium colcloughi), and the only extant member of its genus. This small shark adapts readily to being kept in captivity. It is not valued by either commercial or recreational fishers, and its hardiness means that incidentally caught individuals are likely to be returned to the water alive. In the absence of substantial threats to its population, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed it as of Least Concern.


The blind shark has a stocky body and a wide, somewhat flattened head with a blunt snout. The small, oval eyes are situated high on the head and have strong ridges underneath; the oval spiracles are positioned behind and below and have obvious raised rims. The nostrils are placed almost at the tip of the snout and have long, tapering barbels in front and well-developed skin flaps and grooves around the incurrent openings. A pair of obvious grooves connect the nostrils to the small, almost transverse mouth. There are 32–34 upper tooth rows and 21–29 lower tooth rows; each tooth has an upright, awl-shaped central cusp and a pair of lateral cusplets. The five pairs of gill slits are small, with the fifth pair close to the fourth.

The pectoral fins are large and broad, with rounded margins. The two dorsal fins are roughly equal in size and have rounded apices and angular free rear tips; the first dorsal fin originates over the bases of the pelvic fins. The pelvic fins are rounded and almost as large as the pectoral fins. The anal fin is less than half the size of the dorsal fins and is positioned very close to the base of the long, low caudal fin. The caudal fin comprises about a quarter of the total length, with no ventral lobe and a strong ventral notch near the tip of the upper lobe. The dermal denticles are large, giving the skin a rough texture. This species is light to dark brown above, often with white flecks, and lighter below. Juveniles also have dark bands over the body and tail, which fade with age. The blind shark can reach a length of 0.9–1.2 m (3.0–3.9 ft), though most are much smaller.


The blind shark is a bottom-dwelling species that generally inhabits the continental shelf from the intertidal zone, including tidal pools barely deep enough to cover its body, to a depth of 73 m (240 ft), though it has been recorded as deep as 140 m (460 ft). Preferred habitats are rocky areas and adjacent seagrass beds; juveniles are common in high-energy surge zones.


At night, it moves out over reefs and seagrass meadows to forage for small invertebrates (including crabs, shrimp, cephalopods, and sea anemones) and bony fishes.