Glyphis glyphis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Carcharhiniformes Carcharhinidae

Scientific Name: Glyphis glyphis (Müller & Henle, 1839)
Common Name(s):
English Speartooth Shark
Carcharias glyphis Müller & Henle, 1839
Glyphis sp. nov. A
Taxonomic Notes: Comparison of the holotype of Glyphis glyphis with specimens of Glyphis sp. A from northern Australia and Papua New Guinea suggests that they are conspecific (Compagno et al. 2008).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered C2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2005-10-01
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Compagno, L.J.V., Pogonoski, J. & Pollard, D.
Reviewer(s): Musick, J.A., Fowler, S.L. & Cavanagh, R.D. (Shark Red List Authority)
This assessment is based on the information published in the 2005 shark status survey (Fowler et al. 2005).

This rare shark was long known only from Muller and Henle's original account in 1839. Since then, further specimens from Papua New Guinea and northern Australia (Northern Territory and Queensland) have been identified as Glyphis glyphis. Based on the few specimens collected to date, this species is presumably very rare. Surveys targeting freshwater and estuarine elasmobranchs in northern Australia (Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland) in mid-late 2002 collected no Glyphis specimens, despite sampling in 136 sites in 38 rivers. It is inferred that the global population contains fewer than 2,500 mature individuals and that no subpopulation contains more than 250 mature individuals, further that it is presumably threatened by bycatch in commercial and recreational fishing activities and by possible habitat degradation. Future sampling in northern Australian rivers may yet reveal this species to be more abundant than currently known. However, until a time when its abundance can be proven to be greater than current levels, the species is classified as Endangered.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Speartooth Shark is known from few specimens in scattered localities off northern Australia and New Guinea (Compagno et al. 2008). Recorded from relatively fresh water in the Bizant and Wenlock Rivers (Queensland), Adelaide and East and South Alligator Rivers (Northern Territory) in Australia and from close to Port Romilly and Fly River in New Guinea (Compagno et al. 2008). The holotype is stuffed (no vertebral column except that of the caudal fin) and without locality. There are two similar species of Glyphis in the Western Pacific. Recent comparison of specimens of Glyphis sp. A has confirmed that they are conspecific with Glyphis glyphis. This species appears to be a large inshore marine and freshwater, euryhaline species like the Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas), but far rarer, less wide ranging and perhaps more restricted in habitat and habits. A survey in mid-late 2002 of freshwater elasmobranchs using gillnets and longlines in northern Australia (Kimberleys, Western Australia east to the Cape York drainages of Queensland) yielded no additional specimens of this species despite collecting in 38 rivers and 136 sites (J. D. Stevens, pers. comm. March 2003).
Countries occurrence:
Australia; Papua New Guinea
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The population size is unknown, but is suspected to be small based on current knowledge and their apparent rarity. The number and size of subpopulations is also unknown. All populations need to be preserved to maintain the genetic diversity within this species. Kakadu National Park (Northern Territory) is probably an important site for this species as it may be afforded more protection here than in other areas.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:250-2500Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:Unknown
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:UnknownAll individuals in one subpopulation:Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Speartooth Shark occurs inshore, in estuarine and freshwater habitats. The largest whole specimen was a 175 cm total length (TL) female (Compagno et al. 2008), but they may reach 200-300 cm TL (Compagno et al. 2008). One adolescent male measured 144.7 cm TL and all other males examined were juveniles (Compagno et al. 2008). Size at birth is estimated at ~59 cm TL (Compagno et al. 2008). The ecology (i.e., critical habitat, salinity tolerances) and life history parameters (age and size at maturity for males and females, litter sizes, longevity) of this species need further investigation. The small eyes and slender teeth of Glyphis species suggest that they are primarily fish eaters adapted to living in turbid waters with poor visibility (Compagno 1984, Fowler 1997).
Systems:Freshwater; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Speartooth Sharks occur in the lower reaches of the Bizant River in Queensland, Australia, in rivers in Northern Territory, in inshore or estuarine waters of southern Papua New Guinea and far up the Fly River (which has had severe problems because of release of toxic substances from mining operations up the river). Some of the most threatened chondrichthyan species are those restricted to such habitats, and with naturally very small populations. In addition to all the biological constraints of the marine chondrichthyans, freshwater/brackish species are more seriously limited by threats (such as fisheries and habitat degradation) affecting their restricted populations than are more widely ranging marine species (Compagno 2002). Glyphis glyphis is likely to be threatened by both commercial and recreational fishing and possible habitat degradation. Commercial fishing may be in the form of gillnetting (legal or illegal) or longlining. Recreational fishing may be in the form of illegal gillnetting or hook and line fishing (using bait and/or lures). The potential impacts of fishing operations on this species need further investigation.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In Australia, this species is protected in Commonwealth waters, listed as Critically Endangered on the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999. It is listed as Vulnerable under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2000, but no management program was in place as of June 2002 (Stirrat and Larson 2002). A Recovery Plan is currently being drafted and will be completed by mid-2003 (S. Williams, Environment Australia, pers. comm. March 2003).

Citation: Compagno, L.J.V., Pogonoski, J. & Pollard, D. 2009. Glyphis glyphis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T39379A10221801. . Downloaded on 18 September 2018.
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