Sand Sharks Sand Shark fish
Sand Sharks


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Sand Sharks

Several different fish species are called Sand shark in their native regions. In the USA and UK, the name Sand shark refers to , a species more commonly known as Sand tiger shark. In the UK and around Mauritius, the Gigant guitarfish (Rhynchobatus djiddensis) is known as Sand shark. The Yellow guitarfish (Rhinobatos schlegelii) is also called Sand shark in these waters. Around Bermuda, the Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) is sometimes instead called Sand shark. In New Zeeland, it is the Smalltooth sand tiger (Odontaspis ferox) that is commonly known as the Sand shark. The Bigeye sand tiger (Odontaspis noronhai) is yet another species that often gets its name shortened down to simply Sand shark in everyday language.

Carcharias Taurus

This sand shark is commonly referred to as Sand tiger shark and is found in warm-temperate and tropical waters in the Atlantic Ocean, Indo-West Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It has never been found in the Central Pacific or Eastern Pacific Oceans. This fish prefers to stay in coastal regions. This sand shark is widespread, but regional populations tend to stay isolated and are not believed to breed with each other.

The largest measured Carcharias Taurus was 320 cm long and the largest recorded weight is 158.8 kg. The body coloration is brownish to grey with dark spots. The dark markings are more noticeable in young Sand sharks and tend to fade as the animal matures. Belly and fins are pale. Just like many other sharks, this Sand shark has a short, pointed snout and small protruding teeth that are shaped like spikes. The eyes are small. The caudal fin has a distinct subterminal notch and the ventral lobe is short. The dorsal and anal fins are equal-sized and the first dorsal fin is located closer to the pelvic fin than to the pectoral fins.

This Sand shark has one of the lowest reproductive rates of all the researched elasmobranch species, which make it very vulnerable to environmental treats. It is included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. A female Carcharias Taurus will not give birth to more than one or two young every second year. Some of the largest treats to the survival of this Sand shark are commercial fishing, beach meshing and spear fishing.

Ginglymostoma cirratum

More information about this Sand shark (commonly known as the Nurse shark) can be found here: Nurse shark

Odontaspis ferox

This fish is commonly known as Sand shark, Sandtiger shark, Smalltooth sand tiger shark, Ragged-tooth shark and Herbsts nurse shark. This Sand shark is found from 50° N to 49° S and from 121° W to 177° W. It prefers deep waters and its dept range is 10-530 meters. It occurs in many parts of the world, including the Eastern and Western Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Indo-West Pacific and the waters near Australia, New Zealand and southern Japan. In the Central Pacific it has been sighted off Hawaii, and in the Eastern Pacific you can encounter this Sand shark off the coast of southern California (USA) and Baja California (Mexico). It is most likely also found in the Western Central Pacific.

The largest Odontaspis feroxever reported was 367 centimeters, and the heaviest specimen weighed 289 kilograms. The body coloration is grey and the belly is pale. Some specimens have their sides decorated with red spots. The snout of this Sand shark is short and pointed. The eyes are small and the teeth are small and shaped like spikes. The dorsal and anal fins are of equal size and quite small. You will find the first dorsal fin nearer to the pectoral fin than to the pelvic fin.

This Sand shark is included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It has a minimum population doubling time of over 14 years, which makes this species highly vulnerable. It is often caught (sometimes incidentally) by fishermen. The flesh is eaten by humans and the liver is a rich source of squalene.

Odontaspis noronhai

This Sand shark is commonly known as Bigeye sand tiger. It inhabits deep waters in a region that stretches from 31° N to 34° S and 163° W to 27° W. Its dept range is a remarkable 600 – 1000 m. In the Atlantic it has been found off the coasts of Brazil and Madeira. In the Eastern Central Pacific this Sand shark lives off Hawaii. Some unverified reports also claim that this shark has been spotted near the Seychelles.

The largest captured male Odontaspis noronhai was 360 centimeters long, while the biggest female was 326 centimeters. This Sand shark has a conical and bulging snout, with a rounded tip. The eyes are big. The body has a chocolate brown coloration and all the fins have dark edges, with the exception of the pectoral fins.

This Sand shark is included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, but since it inhabits such great depths the scientific community knows very little about its population status. It has a minimum population time that exceeds 14 years. Much more research is necessary to determine the true status of this Sand shark.

Rhynchobatus djiddensis

This Sand shark is more commonly known as Giant guitarfish or Whitespot giant guitarfish. It is found in the Western Indian Ocean. The population is restricted to the Red Sea and the warm tropical waters of the western Indian Ocean down to South Africa. It is sometimes mixed up with other closely related species that live in the north and eastern regions of the Indian Ocean and in the western Pacific. This Sand shark likes to stay around reefs and has a depth range of 2-50 meters. It is commonly found inshore and in shallow estuaries and feeds chiefly on small fishes, squids, lobsters, crabs and bivalves.

The largest recorded Rhynchobatus djiddensis was 310 centimeters long and the heaviest specimen weighed 227 kilograms. The body has big dark eyespots on the pectoral bases and you can see a characteristic black cross between the eyes. The body coloration is olive-green and the upper body is decorated with rows of tiny white dots. The belly is pale. This Sand shark has a pointed snout and a short lower caudal lobe. The mouth is small and equipped with flattened teeth (they actually look quite similar to a pavement).

This Sand shark is included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The flesh of the Rhynchobatus djiddensis is delicious and the fins are highly sought after in Asian fish markets. This makes this Sand shark one of the most valuable fish species, and it is therefore important for fisheries. It is also a popular gamefish. Many Rhynchobatus djiddensis are today kept in public aquariums. This sand shark is sensitive to over fishing and other environmental treats since its minimum population doubling time is from 4.5 and up to 14 years.

Rhinobatos schlegelii

The Yellow guitarfish is similar to the Whitespot giant guitarfish, but will only grow up to 1 meter. Its depth range is 0-200 meters and it spends most of its time close to the coast, preferably on sandy or muddy bottoms. You can find this Sand shark in subtropical regions in the Western Pacific; from Korea to the Philippines. Small benthic animals make up most of the diet for this Sand shark. This is one of the most appreciated food fishes in the family

Rhinobatidae (Guitarfishes) and it is therefore important for fisheries in the region. The fins are served raw with seasonings. They can also be eaten boiled, and dried fins are used to prepare shark-fin soup. This Sand shark is not included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Its minimum population doubling time is 4.5 to 14 years.

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Sand Sharks