Cephaloscyllium albipinnum 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Carcharhiniformes Scyliorhinidae

Scientific Name: Cephaloscyllium albipinnum Last, Motomura & White, 2008
Common Name(s):
English Whitefin Swellshark
Cephaloscyllium sp. [Last & Stevens, 1994] ssp. A
Taxonomic Notes: The Whitefin Swellshark Cephaloscyllium sp. nov. A [Last & Stevens, 1994] was recently described as Cephaloscyllium albipinnum Last, Motomura & White, 2008.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-01-20
Assessor(s): Barratt, P.J. & Kyne, P.M.
Reviewer(s): Carlson, J. & Dulvy, N.
The Whitefin Swellshark (Cephaloscyllium albipinnum) is a recently described Australian species. This assessment replaces the 2003 Red List assessment for Cephaloscyllium sp. nov. A [Last & Stevens 1994].

The Whitefin Swellshark is endemic to southern Australia on the outer continental shelf and upper slope in depths of 126–554 m. Very little is known about the biology of this species. It is susceptible to trawling and is known to be a common component of bycatch in southern Australia. Parts of its range are subjected to intensive benthic fishing. Declines of >30% have been observed for catch rates of slope Cephaloscyllium spp. off New South Wales over a twenty-year period. There has been some confusion with the similar Saddled Swellshark (C. variegatum) and it is not certain which species the declines are attributable to, but in any instance, it demonstrates the impact of upper slope commercial trawling on swellsharks. However, these declines are documented only over about one third of the known range of this species. There is also evidence of a slight downward trend in population size in the South East Trawl Fishery Observer Program off southern Australia. Given the intensity of trawling over its area of occurrence, the recent observed declines, and the likelihood that the threatening process is ongoing and may lead to a continued population decline, this species is assessed as Near Threatened. It is recommended that catches are monitored.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

The Whitefin Swellshark (Cephaloscyllium albipinnum) is found in southern Australia from Batemans Bay (New South Wales) to Eucla (Western Australia), including Tasmania (Last et al. 2008, Last and Stevens 2009).

Countries occurrence:
Australia (New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – southwest
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):554
Upper depth limit (metres):126
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


The Whitefin Swellshark is a poorly known species and its population size not known.

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

The Whitefin Swellshark is a large, stocky benthic catshark found on the outer continental shelf and upper slope in 126–554 m (Last et al. 2008). It grows to 110 cm total length (TL) (Last and Stevens 2009). Although Last and Stevens (2009) reports that males mature by 70 cm TL, Last et al. (2008) states that the smallest adult male examined was ~89.5 cm TL and the largest immature male was 76 cm TL. Females mature by 98 cm TL (Last and Stevens 2009). This species is oviparous. Like other members of the genus, it is capable of swelling enormously by swallowing water or air. Very little is known of its biology.


Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

There is no known trade or use of the Whitefin Swellshark.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The area inhabited by the Whitefin Swellshark is subject to intensive fishing effort. This bottom dwelling shark is susceptible to capture by trawlers and is a common component of trawl bycatch off southern Australia (Last and Stevens 2009). In comparative surveys of the South East Fishery trawl grounds from 1976–77 and 1996–97 (Graham et al. 2001), the 1996–97 catch rate of “Whitefin Swellshark” (Cephaloscyllium sp. A sensu Last & Stevens, 1994, recently described as C. albipinnum Last, Motomura & White, 2008) was 68% of the 1976–77 rate, indicating a reduction in population size greater than 30% over approximately 20 years. Last et al. (2008) notes that in fact these declines probably refer to the Saddled Swellshark (C. variegatum). In any instance, it demonstrates the impact of upper slope commercial trawling on swellsharks, where the Whitefin Swellshark occurs sympatrically with the Saddled Swellshark. Last et al. (2008) suggests that a listing of Near Threatened remains appropriate for the Whitefin Swellshark despite the confusion with the Saddled Swellshark. Fishing effort on the New South Wales upper slope remains high and ongoing.

The observed declines discussed above are only over about one third of the known range of the Whitefin Swellshark although intensive fishing also occurs on the slope elsewhere across its range. There is also evidence of a slight downward trend in population size in the South East Trawl Fishery Observer Program off southern Australia (T. Walker pers. comm. 2003). Catches of the species needs to be closely monitored in the future, given the intensity of trawling effort in its area of occurrence.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

There are no conservation actions for the Whitefin Swellshark. Research needs to be conducted into the life history and levels of bycatch of this species.

Citation: Barratt, P.J. & Kyne, P.M. 2011. Cephaloscyllium albipinnum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T42706A10745115. . Downloaded on 18 October 2017.
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