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Characteristics, distribution and ecology
Taxonomische classification
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Author: (Bloch and Schneider, 1801)

Field Marks:
A small stout shark with long barbels, nasoral grooves and circumnarial grooves, very large spiracles, a short mouth ahead of the eyes, a median symphyseal groove on the chin, no dermal lobes on sides of head, two equal-sized spineless dorsal fins and an anal fin, the first dorsal origin over the pelvic bases, a short precaudal tail and short caudal fin, and colour blackish to light brown with or without darker saddles, light yellowish on underside, sometimes with many small white spots.

Diagnostic Features:
A median symphyseal groove present on chin. Nostrils nearly terminal on snout. Spiracles large and close to eyes. First dorsal fin about as large as second dorsal. Anal origin about under insertion of second dorsal fin, anal insertion just anterior to lower caudal origin. Caudal fin short, length of its dorsal margin usually less than distance from snout tip to pectoral fin insertion.

Geographical Distribution:
Western South Pacific: Australia (Northern Territory, southern Queensland, New South Wales, possibly Western Australia).

Habitat and Biology:
A common, harmless, inshore bottom shark of temperate Australian waters, often close inshore in tidepools. that are barely deep enough to cover it and at the surf line but occasionally down to about 73 m and exceptionally to 110 m. It favour rocky shoreline areas and coral reefs.

Development ovoviviparous, with 7 or 8 young in a litter. Said to breed in summer (November in the Sydney area).

Feedson small reef invertebrates, including crabs, shrimp, cuttlefish and sea anemones, and small fishes; a coralline alga was found in the stomach of one shark.

A hardy shark that thrives in aquaria, and apparently can live a long time out of water. Termed 'blind shark' by fishermen because it retracts its eyeballs, which causes its thick eyelids to close, when removed from the water.

Maximum total length exceptionally 90 to 122 cm; an adult male was 62 cm long and an adult female, 66 cm; size at birth 15 to 18 cm.

Interest to Fisheries:
Minimal, taken offshore in bottom trawls but utilization not recorded. Commonly caught by sports fishermen with rod and reel from shore in rocky areas, particularly around Sydney.

Whitley (1934:182) suggested that Squalus waddi is the earliest name for the Australian 'blind shark', which Bloch and Schneider described from an illustration of an Australian shark by Dr John Latham. I have not seen the illustration but provisionally accept Whitley's usage of waddi rather than modestum for the Blind Shark, which had considerable usage prior to Whitley's note.

Type material:
Holotype: Unknown. Type Locality: Australia.

Blind shark (Brachaelurus waddi)