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Characteristics, distribution and ecology
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Author: (Bonnaterre, 1788)

Field Marks:
Mouth well in front of eyes, spineless dorsal fins far posterior on tail, extremely elongated thick precaudal tail, long and low anal fin just anterior to caudal fin, dark wide-spaced spots, a conspicuous large black ocellus, without surrounding black spots, on flanks above pectoral fins, no black hood.

Diagnostic Features:
Body slenderer and snout more swollen and elongated than in other species. Colour pattern of scattered large dark spots, not close-set and not forming a light reticular pattern with the background colour; head without a dark hood, flanks above pectoral fins with a very large black spot, ringed with white in the form of a conspicuous ocellus but without surrounding large dark spots; no large white spots on sides; no dark crossbands on ventral surface of tail.

Geographical Distribution:
Western South Pacific: New Guinea, Australia (Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland, ? New South Wales). Possibly also Malaysia and Sumatra (according to Stead, 1963).

Habitat and Biology:
An abundant, small, harmless tropical shark found on coral reefs in shallow water, often in tidepools. Particularly common on the Great Barrier Reef, where it can be seen crawling and clambering about on the bottom. When captured the epaulette shark squirms fitfully but cannot readily escape. Oviparous. Harmless to people.

Size:
Maximum total length about 107 cm.

Interest to Fisheries:
None at present.

Type material:
Holotype: Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, MNHN 1003, 355 mm male. Type Locality: "La mer du sud".

Epaulette shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum)