Author: (Bleeker, 1852)
A small, slender shark with an angular, moderately long snout, large lateral eyes with nictitating eyelids, small spiracles, long gill slits about twice eye length or more, very long parabolic mouth with prominently protruding lower teeth, upper teeth with distal cusplets but no serrations, lower teeth with extremely long, hooked smooth-edged cusps, two spineless dorsal fins and an anal fin, second dorsal about 2/3 the size of first, second dorsal origin opposite or slightly ahead of anal origin, anal fin smaller than second dorsal and without preanal ridges, transverse, crescentic precaudal pits, and light grey or bronze colour with no prominent markings.
Snout wedge-shaped in dorsoventral view; gill slits very long, 1.8 to 2.1 times the eye length in adults; mouth parabolic and very long, its length 66 to 82% of its width; lower jaw rounded at symphysis; ends of upper labial furrows behind rear corners of eyes; no toothless space at midlines of jaws; upper anterolateral teeth with smooth mesial edges and very long cusps; lower anterolateral teeth with very long, stout, strongly hooked cusps, and no cusplets; lower crown feet and roots deeply arched, giving teeth an inverted Y shape; lower teeth protrude prominently when mouth is closed; tooth row counts 33 to 38/34 to 36, with 2 more lower rows to 2 less than upper rows. Fins not falcate; second dorsal height 3/5 or more of first dorsal height.
Indo-West Pacific: The "Gulf", Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam, China (including Taiwan Province), Java, Sulawesi.
Habitat and Biology:
A common inshore tropical shark of the continental and insular shelves, caught at depths down to 59 m. Development viviparous, with a yolksac placenta; number of young 4 per litter. Diet unrecorded, but probably eats small fishes, cephalopods, and crustaceans.
Maximum about 100 cm, adult males 68 to 97 cm. Size at birth at least 20 cm.
Interest to Fisheries:
Commonly caught in inshore and offshore artisanal fisheries off Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, and probably elsewhere in its range. Caught in drifting and bottom gillnets and on longlines and other line gear. Meat utilized fresh for human consumption; offal processed into fishmeal.
Hemigaleus balfouri is apparently a synonym of this species, judging from its original description (Day, 1878); unfortunately its holotype is lost. Apparently this name has been used indiscriminately for the three species of hemigaleids in Indo-Pakistani waters other than Hemipristis elongatus. See Compagno (1979) for a discussion of this problem.
Holotype: One specimen mentioned in Bleeker's original account, a male stated to be 690 mm long, is apparently in the British Museum (Natural History), BMNH 1818.104.22.168, 699 mm long as measured by the writer (Dr M. Boeseman, pers.comm., 1981). Type Locality: Java.