The banded houndshark is a bottom-dwelling species of shark found in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. They usually frequent coastal areas and are solitary, nocturnal animals.
German biologists Friedrich Gustav Jakob Henle and Johannes Peter Müller in 1838 were the first to give a scientific description of the species based on a sample from Japan.
Banded Houndshark Scientific Classification
|Scientific name||T. scyllium|
These sharks are not very large, with the average length being 99-108 cm (3.2-3.5 ft) for mature males and 106-117 cm (3.4-3.8 ft) for females. However, the largest specimen ever found measured 150 cm (4.9 ft) long. Newborns typically measure 18-20 cm.
The banded houndshark has a slender body and a short, rounded snout, with wide spacing between the nostrils and five pairs of gills. The eyes are placed on top of the head and have rudimentary nictitating membranes. It has a grey upper body and is lighter on the underside. The young sharks have dark saddles and splotches that fade over time.
They have narrow fins. The pectoral fins are triangular and broad in adults. The first dorsal fin has a trailing margin almost vertical at the tip and is placed in the middle of the pectoral and pelvic fins. The second dorsal fin is bigger than the anal fin. The caudal fin has a well developed lower lobe.
Where do they live
Banded houndsharks are found primarily in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, ranging from southern Russia, Japan, North and South Korea, eastern China, to Taiwan. It commonly inhabits sandy flats and eelgrass beds at depths between 30-150 m.
While it is an ocean-dwelling fish, it is also known to enter estuaries in search of food.
These sharks mainly consume crustaceans, cephalopods, spoon worms, and small bony fishes on the ocean floor. Shrimp and spoon worms are essential prey for smaller individuals. The larger sharks hunt mostly cephalopods.
The females follow ovoviviparous mode of reproduction. The eggs hatch inside the mother’s womb, and she gives birth to live young. 9-26 pups are born after a 9-12 month gestation period.
Males are sexually mature at 5-6 years old and live for about 15 years. Females become sexually mature at 6-7 years and can live up to 18 years.
They are usually solitary creatures, but they are known to congregate where food is abundant. They also have a habit of piling up on the sea floor.
Female banded houndsharks have shown the unique property of parthenogenesis, which is the ability to bear young from unfertilized eggs, in captivity.
Interactions with humans
Banded houndsharks are harmless to humans and have been known to shy away from divers. They are popular in aquariums all over Japan and China, with the average lifespan in captivity being 5 years.
They are not commercially hunted as their meat is of poorer quality, and are only caught as bycatch. However, recently, efforts have been made to make them a viable food source in southwestern Chiba, Japan.
The IUCN has declared the species “Endangered” or “EN.”