With unique skin patterns, the Arabian carpet shark is just one species in this fascinating family of sharks. So, what makes this particular shark so interesting?
Carpet sharks (Orectolobiformes) are a type of shark known for their intricate patterns that resemble carpet patterns. The Arabian Carpet Shark (Chiloscyllium arabicum), also sometimes known as the Arabian Bamboo Shark, is a member of this family native to the waters around Saudi Arabia. With distinctive, slender bodies, this fairly small shark will amaze you with how it glides through the water.
What does an Arabian Carpet Shark look like?
Carpet sharks are known for their slender bodies with a round snout and low jaw, which makes it much easier for feeding off the reef floor. They are brown in colour, with a mottled pattern which gives them their name because of their resemblance to patterns that are found in carpets. An Arabian Carpet Shark usually grows up to 4 feet long.
Arabian Carpet Sharks have five pairs of gill slits like most species of shark, and their dorsal fins are spineless and of equal size. This species also has a long tail.
When they were first discovered, experts thought that they were actually grey bamboo sharks, but after more research, they were classified as a distinct species of shark.
Where do Arabian Carpet Sharks live?
As the name suggests, the Arabian Carpet Shark is typically found in waters around the Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, along the coastlines of Iran and Pakistan, and sometimes as far south as India. They live amongst the coral reefs and mangroves, preferring tropical waters.
Carpet Sharks tend to live in shallow areas such as rocky coastlines, with their typical depth being around 10m below sea level. They can, however, be found as deep as 100m down on occasion.
Other animals that call the Arabian Gulf home include the Arabian angelfish, Blackspot snapper, Monocle bream, and Starry-eyed blenny, amongst many others.
Don’t forget, you can see Arabian Carpet Sharks for yourself right here at Bristol Aquarium!
What do Arabian Carpet Sharks eat?
As Arabian Carpet Sharks are bottom dwellers, they typically feed on animals that are found in that part of the deep ocean. This species are carnivorous, and will usually eat bony fish and invertebrates. This includes squid, molluscs, crustaceans and snake eels.
Because of their relatively small stature, carpet sharks can also find themselves as being prey to large animals such as larger sharks or marine mammals. To combat this, they attempt to blend into the sea floor using their camouflaged skin.
Fun Facts about the Arabian Carpet Shark
- Arabian Carpet Sharks are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs rather than give birth to live young. In a single litter, up to 4 pups can be born. Even though this sounds like a lot, some larger species of shark can have hundreds of pups in one litter.
- Despite the stereotype that sharks are big and scary, the Arabian Carpet Shark is small and relatively harmless to humans, even in the wild. Because they gather food by scouring the sea floor, their mouths are underneath them, making it difficult for them to attack large prey.
- Arabian Carpet Sharks have advanced spiracles located just below its eyes. Spiracles are modified gill slits, allowing the shark to breathe while remaining stationary. This means the Arabian Carpet Shark can lie motionless, avoiding being caught as prey while also conserving energy.
- The IUCN Red List has listed the Arabian Carpet Shark as ‘Near Threatened’, with a decreasing population.
So, there’s everything you need to know about the Arabian Carpet Shark! If you’re excited to see these beautiful animals up close and personal, don’t forget to book your tickets to Bristol Aquarium.
What do they eat?
Bony fish and invertebrates
Where are we?
Arabian Gulf & Indian Ocean