Brachaelurus waddi 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Orectolobiformes Brachaeluridae

Scientific Name: Brachaelurus waddi (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
Common Name(s):
English Blind Shark

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-05-15
Assessor(s): Kyne, P.M. & Bennett, M.B.
Reviewer(s): Walls, R.H.L. & Bigman, J.S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Kyne, P.M. & Walls, R.H.L.
The Blind Shark (Brachaelurus waddi) is endemic to the east coast of Australia. No detailed information is available on current population trends, however, it is a relatively common species. It is not targeted commercially or recreationally, but is a regular bycatch of trap fishing in New South Wales. Recent research suggests that it has a limited reproductive potential. It appears to be a hardy species, capable of surviving out of water for extended periods, thus post-capture survivorship may be high. It is popular in the marine aquarium trade although current levels of exploitation are unknown. Some research is required to assess bycatch levels, but the species remains common and likely finds refuge in unfished habitats given its affinity for rocky shorelines and reefs and is therefore assessed as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Blind Shark is endemic to the western South Pacific Ocean in warm temperate to subtropical waters along the east coast of Australia ranging from Mooloolaba in southern Queensland south to Jervis Bay in New South Wales (NSW) (Johnson 1999, Last and Stevens 2009). Reports from Western Australia and the Northern Territory require confirmation (Last and Stevens 2009). However, there are no confirmed reports of the species from either Western Australia (Barry Hutchins, pers. comm., 2003) or from the Northern Territory (Helen Larson, pers. comm., 2003) and it is probable that the Grey Carpetshark (Chiloscyllium punctatum) (family Hemiscylliidae), may have been mistaken for the Blind Shark in these areas (Barry Hutchins, pers. comm., 2003, Last and Stevens 2009).
Countries occurrence:
Australia (New South Wales, Queensland)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – western central; Pacific – southwest
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):140
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The Blind Shark is relatively common throughout its range. There is no available information on populations size or structure.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Blind Shark is a secretive nocturnal benthic shark inhabiting rocky shorelines and reefs, and also nearby seagrass beds. It remains in rocky caves and under ledges during the day moving out to feed at night. Juveniles often occupy ledges, crevices and seagrass beds in high-energy surge zones (Kuiter 1993, Michael 1993). The species is reported over the continental shelf from the intertidal zone to 140 m depth (Last and Stevens 2009). Last and Stevens (2009) report a maximum size of 120 cm total length (TL), but note that individuals are normally much smaller than this maximum. Length at 50% maturity is 49.5 cm TL for females and 58.1 cm TL for males, corresponding to an age at maturity of 7.3 years for males (Norén 2013). Maximum age (assuming annual vertebral band deposition) is estimated to be 19 years (Norén 2013). Size at birth is about 17.5-21 cm TL (Norén 2013).

The Blind Shark is lecithotrophic viviparous with litters of 7-8 young reported by Whitley (1940) and 3-9 (mean = 6.6) reported by Norén (2013). Reproductive periodicity is at least biennial and possibly triennial (Norén 2013).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Utilized in the aquarium trade.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is not targeted or marketed commercially (Last and Stevens 2009). The flesh is reported to be unpalatable (Grant 1978) and recreational fishing is thought to have little effect on the species. Rock fishers often encounter the Blind Shark (Last and Stevens 2009), and while recreational fishers in New South Wales (NSW) have been reported to retain very small amounts of the species (Rose and SAG 2001), it is thought that the shark is generally not retained and is probably mostly returned to the water (Dave Pollard, pers. comm., 2003). Spearfishers are unlikely to encounter the Blind Shark because of its cryptic nocturnal nature. The species is likely to be taken as bycatch in demersal prawn trawl fisheries in NSW (Ocean Prawn Trawl Fishery) and in Queensland (East Coast Trawl Fishery). The species is regularly caught by commercial trap fishing in NSW (Norén 2013).

The Blind Shark is able to remain out of water for extended periods of time (up to 18 hours) (Michael 1993, Last and Stevens 2009). This apparent hardiness implies that the species could survive trawl capture more readily than other species if successfully returned to the water.

Shark control programs (SCP) operate in NSW and Queensland waters within the range of the Blind Shark. Dudley and Gribble (1999) report the species from the Queensland SCP but no details were provided. The shark hasn't been recorded in the NSW Protective Beach Meshing Program (Dennis Reid, pers. comm., 2003). The mesh size used in the NSW program is 50-60 cm and in the Queensland program 50 cm, therefore the Blind Shark is likely to readily pass through the nets if encountered. Its capture in the Queensland SCP is likely to be extremely rare.

This shark is exploited at low levels for the marine aquarium trade and reportedly hardy and well suited to aquarium display (Michael 2001). The exact level of pressure placed on the population by capture for this trade is unknown. The above interactions with the species are assumed to be having minimal effect on the viability of the population. Furthermore, despite its cryptic nature, it appears to be relatively common, particularly in NSW waters (Jeff Johnson, pers. comm., 2003).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Blind Shark is likely to occur in a number of marine protected areas including Queensland's Moreton Bay Marine Park at the northern extent of its range, and several marine parks in New South Wales. Zoning plans for these parks are complex and ‘no-take’ zones only exist in small areas (for example, recreational line and spear fishing are permitted in many of these parks). Marine protected areas in New South Wales waters where this shark is likely to occur and where commercial and recreational fishing activities are completely banned in at least some sections of the park include the Solitary Islands Marine Park (71,000 hectares), Jervis Bay Marine Park (21,450 hectares) and the Cape Byron Marine Park (~22,000 hectares). Additionally, the species is likely to occur in the Commonwealth managed Solitary Islands Marine Reserve (17,000 hectares), adjacent to New South Wales's Solitary Islands Marine Park.

Although currently not at risk of extinction, research is needed to identify the level of interaction this species has with fisheries as bycatch, and to provide more information on its status.

Citation: Kyne, P.M. & Bennett, M.B. 2015. Brachaelurus waddi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T41732A68610784. . Downloaded on 21 September 2017.
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