Chiloscyllium arabicum 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Orectolobiformes Hemiscylliidae

Scientific Name: Chiloscyllium arabicum Gubanov, 1980
Common Name(s):
English Arabian Carpetshark
French Requin-chabot Camot
Spanish Bamboa ArĂ¡biga
Chiloscyllium confusum Dingerkus & DeFino, 1983
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N., Fricke, R. and Van der Laan, R. (eds). 2017. Catalog of Fishes: genera, species, references. Updated 28 April 2017. Available at: (Accessed: 03 May 2017).
Taxonomic Notes: This species was first described by Gubanov and Schleib (1980) but Dingerkus and DeFino (1983) described it as a separate species, Chiloscyllium confusum, without mention of C. arabicum. Compagno (1984) provisionally recognized C. arabicum but noted that it was apparently very close to C. punctatum. Dingerkus and DeFino's account clearly establishes this species as being separable from C. punctatum (Compagno 2001).

This species has been widely misreported as C. griseum, at least in the Arabian Gulf/Persian Gulf (hereafter referred to as the 'Gulf'); the distribution of these two similar species (and any overlap) requires clarification.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2017-02-09
Assessor(s): Moore, A.
Reviewer(s): Jabado, R., Pollom, R. & Kyne, P.M.
Contributor(s): Ebert, D.A., Bineesh, K.K., Fernando, D., Akhilesh, K.V. & Kyne, P.M.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Jabado, R., Kyne, P.M.
The Arabian Carpetshark (Chiloscyllium arabicum) appears to be reasonably common; however, its distribution requires clarification as confusion with congeners such as the Grey Bamboo Shark (Chiloscyllium griseum) may lead to a revision of distribution. This small benthic shark is not targeted but appears to be a major bycatch element of trawl (and other) fisheries, although it is hardy to trawl capture and aerial exposure, and may have relatively high post-capture survival rates. Apparently it is little utilised in the Arabian Gulf/Persian Gulf (hereafter referred to as the 'Gulf') but probably is used in Pakistan and India.

The species is threatened by habitat loss and degradation throughout its range. It is known to have a close association with coral reef habitats, which are particularly prone to anthropogenic degradation and there is evidence that such habitats have been severely degraded or lost in some parts of the Gulf, in addition to stress placed on these systems by climate change. More generally, it is exposed to widespread habitat loss and modification, not least in the Gulf (e.g., modification of the Tigris/Euphrates system), coastal developments and effects to benthic communities from demersal trawling throughout much of its range. It is also known to accumulate organic pollutants such as PAHs.

The threats of fishing and habitat degradation are likely to continue into the future and increase in intensity and coverage (for example, fishing pressure continues to increase in India and elsewhere). As a result of these combined factors, this species is assessed as Near Threatened (nearly meets A2cd) based on inferred continuing population declines approaching 30% in the last three generations (~27 years), particularly as a result of habitat loss. Given that this species is often discarded (in the Gulf at least) and a proportion of discards may have a relatively high survival rate, a threatened category is not yet warranted, but the species is suspected to meet Near Threatened (nearly meets VU 3cd) over the next three generation period (2017-2044). There is a need for quantitative distribution and abundance data.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Arabian Carpetshark is endemic to the Arabian Seas region and is common from the Gulf to Pakistan and India. Records of this species from Oman require confirmation. Another Chiloscyllium species, which is similar to the Arabian Carpetshark and possibly undescribed, may occur in northwestern India (R.W. Jabado pers. comm. 07/02/2017).
Countries occurrence:
Bahrain; India (Gujarat, Kerala); Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Kuwait; Oman; Pakistan; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; United Arab Emirates
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):UnknownEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):Unknown
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:Unknown
Lower depth limit (metres):100
Upper depth limit (metres):2
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Currently there is no information on the population of this species. Further research is needed in order to determine population size and trends in abundance. Given the species' regular occurrence as bycatch, and declines in coastal habitats in the region (particularly in the Gulf), the species is suspected to have undergone a past population decline of ~20-30% with a similar future population decline suspected over the next three generation periods (2017-2044) (see Threats section for reasons).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:UnknownPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:UnknownAll individuals in one subpopulation:Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

The Arabian Carpetshark occurs in coastal waters in coral reefs, lagoons, rocky shores, muddy bottoms and mangrove estuaries from 2-100 m. This shark is less than 10 cm total length (TL) at birth, but grows to a maximum length of 80 cm TL (Weigmann 2016). Females mature at 52 cm TL and males at about 55 cm TL (Moore and Peirce 2013). The species is oviparous, with single egg cases developing in each uterus. It appears to be closely associated with coral reefs. Age data are not available, but generation length is estimated as 9 years using data from the similar-sized White-spotted Bambooshark (C. plagiosum) (Chen et al. 2007).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Movement patterns:Unknown

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

This is a hardy species that is taken as bycatch mostly in trawls and stake nets, it is usually discarded at sea. The species has low market value. It may be taken for the aquarium trade.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This is a hardy species that is taken as bycatch mostly in trawls and stake nets; it is usually discarded at sea. The species has low market value. A shrimp bycatch study undertaken between 1987 and 1989 in Kuwait suggests that of the 34,750 to 55,500 tons of bycatch quantities, more than 98% were discarded with the discarded fish comprised of 14% carpet sharks (Ye et al. 2000, Chen et al. 2012).

Habitat degradation is likely to be an important factor. The Arabian Carpetshark is known to have close association with coral reef habitats, which are particularly prone to anthropogenic degradation and the effects of climate change (Carpenter et al. 2008, Normile 2016). In the Gulf this includes changes due to the damming of the Tigris-Euphrates river system in Turkey and the drainage of the Iraqi marshes (Al-Yamani et al. 2007), chronic and acute (e.g., war-related) releases of oil, rapid large-scale coastal development (e.g., megastructures in the UAE), and changes to benthic communities from demersal trawling. Coastal land reclamation has accelerated in this area in recent years and, as a result, coastal reefs and other habitat have been destroyed. For example, this has resulted in the almost total loss of mangrove areas around Bahrain (Morgan 2006a).

High levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and benzo [a] pyrene reported from this species from Kuwait (Al-Hassan et al. 2000).

In India, declines in general catch rates, biomass, recruitment and shifts in regular landing patterns in inshore fisheries have been linked to steep increases in the fisher population, number and efficiency of craft and gears, and associated fishing effort, as well as the degradation of coastal habitats (mangroves, coral reefs, etc.) caused by pollution of coastal waters, urbanization, coastal developments, etc. (Morgan 2006b). Although no specific data are available it is reasonable to assume that this species has been impacted.

The species is commonly used in aquaria, e.g., in Kuwait (Tony McEwan Kuwait Scientific Centre pers. comm. to A.B. Moore 30/09/2006), although this is not thought to represent a threat to populations.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no species-specific conservation measures in place. Some countries across its range have banned the targeted fishing for sharks (e.g., Kuwait and Saudi Arabia). Seasonal bans on shark fishing are in place in Iran (from March to August) and the UAE (February to June). The UAE, Qatar and Oman have banned trawling in their waters (since 1980, 1993 and 2011, respectively) while Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have seasonal trawl bans that might benefit the species. However, incidental catches frequently occur in other fisheries (e.g., gillnetting).

Research is needed to determine distribution, population size and trends in abundance to further assess status and any future conservation needs.

Effective monitoring of fisheries is required, as is the effective implementation and management of marine protected areas. An education program on sustainable fishing and bycatch mitigation is needed for fishers.

Citation: Moore, A. 2017. Chiloscyllium arabicum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T161426A109902537. . Downloaded on 18 November 2017.
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