Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Chimaeriformes Chimaeridae

Scientific Name: Chimaera obscura
Species Authority: Didier, Last & White, 2008
Common Name(s):
English Shortspine Chimaera
Taxonomic Notes: Last and Stevens (1994) recorded the Shortspine Chimaera (Chimaera obscura) as Chimaera sp. B, but it has since been formally described by Didier et al. (2008). The Shortspine Chimaera is sympatric with the Southern Chimaera (C. fulva) off the coast of New South Wales, however the Shortspine Chimaera differs from this species by being smaller and darker in colour, as well as genetically distinct (Didier et al. 2008).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-11-28
Assessor(s): Theiss, S.M., Huveneers, C. & Ebert, D.A.
Reviewer(s): Carlson, J. & Dulvy, N.
The Shortspine Chimaera (Chimaera obscura) is known from the continental slope off the New South Wales coast (Australia) in depths of 1,025–1,080 m.  Nothing is known of the biology of this species. Maximum size, including the caudal filament, is to at least 95 cm total length and 53 cm body length. Size-at-birth is unknown. Its reproductive mode like other members of this family is most likely oviparous. There are no anthropogenic processes currently threatening this species. Deepwater trawl fisheries are restricted to shallower than 750 m and currently do not overlap the distribution of this species, however re-assessment may be needed if the current ban on fishing depth is lifted. Detailed information regarding the ecology and life history of this species, as well as regular monitoring of commercial fishery bycatch, is required for effective management and conservation of the Shortspine Chimaera. It is recommended that species-specific catch data are monitored closely in case the fisheries expand in the future.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Shortspine Chimaera is known from only three specimens caught in east Australian waters off Tuncurry, New South Wales (32⁰06'S, 153⁰09'E) (K. Graham unpublished data), but has been reported from Ulladulla (New South Wales) north to Townsville (Queensland) (Last and Stevens 1994). The latter records require validation as they are most likely a different species.
Countries occurrence:
Australia (New South Wales)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Lower depth limit (metres): 1080
Upper depth limit (metres): 1025
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There are no details of relative abundance, population size, structure or trends of the Shortspine Chimaera.
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

The Shortspine Chimaera is found along the continental slope at depths of 1,025–1,080 m (Didier et al. 2008, K. Graham unpublished data), however unconfirmed records place this species at depths as shallow as 450 m (Last and Stevens 1994). There are no specific details on habitat.

Nothing is known about the biology of the Shortspine Chimaera. Maximum total length (TL), including the caudal filament, is reported to reach at least 95 cm, 53 cm body length (BDL) (Didier et al. 2008). The smallest mature males were recorded as 54 cm BDL, however both the holotype and paratype (Didier et al. 2008), as well as a further 3rd specimen lodged with the Australian Museum, Sydney, are female, and thus information concerning male specimens should be treated with caution. Size-at-birth is unknown and like other members of this family, the Shortspine Chimaera is most likely oviparous.

Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The Shortspine Chimaera is not utilized or traded.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The Shortspine Chimaera is currently not exposed to any anthropogenic threat. This species is not targeted commercially however a possible threat to this species is as bycatch in benthic deepwater trawls targeting teleost fishes and prawns off the east coast of Australia. Commercial trawl fisheries operating within the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery are currently prohibited from trawling below 750 m (Wilson et al. 2010), which provides a refuge for the Shortspine Chimaera, as it is found in deeper waters (1,025–1,080 m). Possible confusion with other species, such as the Southern Chimaera and the Longspine Chimaera (C. macrospina), and lack of fisheries bycatch data make it difficult to identify more specific threats to this species in regards to current fisheries practices.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

No conservation actions are currently in place for the Shortspine Chimaera and information regarding the biology of this species is urgently required. There is no regular monitoring of bycatch in commercial fisheries and so catch and trend information, which is vital to inform management, are lacking. However, bottom trawl fisheries operating within its known range are currently prohibited from operating below 750 m, which would provide a natural refuge for this species, as it is found in deeper waters below 1,000 m. Although relatively small and beyond the current range of fisheries, it is recommended that this species is monitored with regard to any deepwater fisheries that might take this species as directed catch or bycatch in the future.

Citation: Theiss, S.M., Huveneers, C. & Ebert, D.A. 2011. Chimaera obscura. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T195432A8965822. . Downloaded on 04 October 2015.
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