Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Carcharhiniformes Scyliorhinidae

Scientific Name: Cephaloscyllium ventriosum
Species Authority: (Garman, 1880)
Common Name(s):
English Swell Shark, Swellshark
French Holbiche Ventrue
Spanish Pejegato Hinchado
Cephaloscyllium uter (Jordan & Gilbert, in Jordan & Evermann, 1896)

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2006
Date Assessed: 2006-01-31
Assessor(s): Garayzar, C.V.
Reviewer(s): Kyne, P.M., Stevens, J., Dudley, S., Pollard, D. & Cavanagh, R.D. (Shark Red List Authority)
A little known nocturnal benthic and epibenthic catshark with a disjunct distribution in the Eastern Pacific, from California to southern Mexico, and off central Chile. Recorded inshore to 457 m depth, but most common at 5 to 40 m. Oviparous, but annual egg production is unknown. While little information on the species is available there are no major threats to the species. It is not targeted commercially and its habitat of rocky reefs affords it general protection from fishing activities (i.e., bycatch of trawling). Occasionally caught by recreational anglers and divers. Cephaloscyllium spp. are generally hardy with high survival rates if discarded. They are popular in the marine aquarium trade and an effort should be made to determine the extent to which this species enters that trade. Globally the species is assessed as Least Concern, but is considered Data Deficient for the Chilean subpopulation where no information is available.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: An Eastern Pacific species with a disjunct range. Known from California, USA to southern Mexico including the Gulf of California and off central Chile. The absence of records from between these regions, that is, the tropical Eastern Pacific suggests that this species is not suited to tropical waters or that there has been a lack of surveys in the area (Ebert 2003).
Countries occurrence:
Mexico (Baja California, Baja California Sur, Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Sonora); United States (California)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – southeast
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Californian, Gulf of California and Chilean populations could be isolated populations. Ebert (2003) notes that the species is very common in Californian waters south of Point Conception.

The Swell Shark population at Catalina Island, California decreased over a 20 year period, attributed to an increase in the surface water temperatures (Ebert 2003).
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Benthic and epibenthic on the continental shelf and upper slope inshore to 457m, but is most common at 5 to 40 m (Ebert 2003, Compagno in prep b). The Swell Shark prefers rocky, algal-covered areas of kelp beds, but also occurs on algal-covered bottom without kelp (Compagno in prep. b). Primarily nocturnal, resting in caves and crevices during the day, often in aggregations.

Oviparous with eggs hatching after 7.5 to 10 months, depending on water temperature (Compagno in prep b). One eggcase per oviduct at a time (Ebert 2003), however, egg-laying rates and seasonality and therefore annual egg production is not known.

Life history parameters
Age at maturity (years): Unknown.
Size at maturity (total length): Female: 70 cm TL (Grover 1972b); Male: 73 cm TL (Grover 1972b) adult males 82 to 85 (Compagno et al. 2005).
Longevity (years): Unknown.
Maximum size (total length): 110 cm TL (Castro 1983).
Size at birth: 13 to 15 cm TL (Eschmeyer et al. 1983).
Average reproductive age (years): Unknown.
Gestation time: 7.5 to 10 months.
Reproductive periodicity: Unknown.
Average annual fecundity or litter size: Unknown.
Annual rate of population increase: Unknown.
Natural mortality: Unknown.
Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Utilisation
Possibly used for fishmeal when taken as bycatch (Compagno in prep. b).

Aquarium trade

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is not targeted commercially. It may be taken as a minor bycatch in gillnets and trawls, however, its habitat is generally unsuitable for trawling and so the species is afforded protection in its rocky reef and kelp habitat.

Occasionally taken by recreational anglers and spearfishers (Compagno in prep. b), but this will not be significant.

Captured for the marine aquaria trade, although the extent of this fishery is not known at present (Compagno in prep. b).

Possibly used for fishmeal when taken as bycatch (Compagno in prep. b).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: General life history information and catch data (the latter particularly for the Chile subpopulation) are required. The extent to which the species enters the marine aquaria trade needs to be determined.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.1. Marine Neritic - Pelagic
suitability: Suitable  
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.7. Marine Neritic - Macroalgal/Kelp
suitability: Suitable  
4. Education & awareness -> 4.1. Formal education

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale)
♦ timing: Ongoing    

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale)
♦ timing: Ongoing    

1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology

Bibliography [top]

Castro, J.I. 1983. The sharks of North American waters. Texas A & M University Press, College Station.

Compagno, L., Dando, M. and Fowler, S. 2005. A field guide to the sharks of the world. Harper Collins Publishers Ltd., London.

Compagno, L.J.V. In prep. b. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the shark species known to date. Volume 3. (Carcharhiniformes). FAO Species Catalogue for Fisheries Purposes No. 1, Vol.3. FAO, Rome.

Ebert, D.A. 2003. Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras of California. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Edwards, H.M. 1920. The growth of the swell shark within the egg case. California Fish and Game 6(4): 153–157.

Eschmeyer, W.N., Herald, E.S. and Hammann, H. 1983. A field guide to Pacific coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, USA.

Feder, H.M., Turner, C.H. and Limbaugh, C. 1974. Observations on fishes associated with kelp beds in southern California. California Fish and Game Fish Bulletin 160: 44.

Grover, C.A. 1972a. Predation on the egg cases of the swell shark, Cephaloscyllium ventriosum. Copeia 1972(4): 871–872.

Grover, C.A. 1972b. Population differences in the swell shark Cephaloscyllium ventriosum. California Department of Fish and Game 58(3): 191–197.

IUCN. 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 04 May 2006.

IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group. Specialist Group website. Available at:

Kato, S., Springer, S. and Wagner, M.H. 1967. Field guide to Eastern Pacific and Hawaiian sharks. United States Fish and Wildlife Service Circular 271.

Nelson, D.R. and Johnson, R.H. 1970. Diel activity rhythms in the nocturnal, bottom-dwelling sharks, Heterodontus francisci and Cephaloscyllium ventriosum. Copeia 1970(4): 732–739.

Roedel, P.M. and Ripley, W.E. 1950. California sharks and rays. California Fisheries Bulletin No. 75.

Citation: Garayzar, C.V. 2006. Cephaloscyllium ventriosum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2006: e.T60227A12328675. . Downloaded on 13 October 2015.
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