Epaulette Shark

Animal File

Coral reefs
Rocky reefs
Common Name:
Epaulette Shark
Scientific Name:
Size: Up to 107cm
Pacific, Indian
Australia, Papua, New Guinea
Conservation Status
Least concern

The epaulette shark is a small member of the carpetshark family (so called for their ornate patterns similar to carpet) with a slender, flexible and elongated body. They have a tan colouration along with small black dots and are most recognised for the large black spot covered in a white margin just behind the pectoral fin. This mark is very similar to the ornamental epaulettes on a military uniform, hence the common name. This colouration also provides camouflage amongst the shallow habitat they can be found in.

Epaulette sharks are a nocturnal species and are mostly found hiding amongst corals during the day and foraging within shallow water and tide pools at night. This shark has adapted high tolerance to low oxygenated waters and has the amazing ability to crawl between pools at low tide. Generally only swimming to avoid predation, epaulette sharks are often seen walking around on their muscular pectoral fins allowing them to remain close to the seabed for capturing prey items and aiding navigation.

Upon the snout a pair of barbells provide additional sensory ability and along with other sharks electroreception is a major advantage. Epaulette sharks usually feed on worms and crabs, once prey is captured the shark will often chew its food for up to 5-10 minutes.

Epaulette sharks are an oviparous (egg laying) species. Mating generally occurs from July to December. Females can lay two eggs at a time and will do so every 14 days allowing the production of 20 eggs per year.  To provide protection during development the eggs are deposited between coral heads.

Over 30 Epaulette sharks have been bred at the Oceanarium and most have been re-homed through co-operation with other UK and European aquaria.

Epaulette sharks can be viewed in the Oceanarium’s Key West display. 

Talks and Feeding times

Children under 3 yrs FREE!! See other tickets

The health of our aquarium family, which includes our visitors, staff and animals, is our top priority. In light of the most recent advice from Public Health England and the government, we will be temporarily closing the Oceanarium Bournemouth effective immediately, until further notice.

We apologise for any disappointment and inconvenience caused.

Please be assured that our dedicated keeper team will continue to provide the best care for our animals during the closure.

If you’ve booked tickets for any day during this closure, you can exchange them for any other date in 2020 or we can provide a refund. Please send your booking details to marketing@reallive.co.uk.

We’ll keep you informed through our website and social media channels. Thank you for your patience and we really look forward to welcoming you back to the Oceanarium when we re-open. Stay safe everyone.