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Smalltooth Sand Tiger Sharks, Odontaspis ferox

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Description & Behavior

Smalltooth sand tiger sharks, Odontaspis ferox (Risso, 1810), aka bumpytail raggedtoothes, sand tigers, Herbst's nurse sharks (Australia), sand tiger sharks, sand sharks, blue nurse sharks (UK), and ragged-tooth sharks (US), are often confused with sandtigers, grey nurses or ragged-tooth sharks. Other scientific names (synonyms): Carcharias ferox (Risso, 1810), Dontaspis herbsti (Whitley, 1950), and Squalus ferox (Risso, 1810). These large sharks have a short, pointed snout, small eyes, protruding spike-like teeth, and small, dorsal and anal fins that are similar in size. Their first dorsal fin is closer to their pectoral fins than to their pelvic fins. They are gray on their dorsal (upper) sides, pale on their ventral (under) sides, and occasionally have red spots on their flanks. They reach maximum lengths of around 3.67 m and maximum weights of about 289 kg.

World Range & Habitat

Smalltooth sand tiger sharks, Odontaspis ferox, are found in the eastern Atlantic: Gulf of Gascony, Madeira, Morocco, Mediterranean; also Cape Verde and in the western Atlantic: Yucatan Shelf, Mexico. They are also in the Indo-West Pacific: off South Africa and Maldives, Madagascar, southern Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. And they are expected to occur in the western central Pacific, central Pacific: off Hawaii, and in the eastern Pacific: off southern California, US and Baja California, Mexico.

They are bathydemersal; marine; depth range 10-530 m, deep-water species. Smalltooth sand tiger sharks are found on or near the bottom of the continental and insular (island) shelves and upper slopes. They are sometimes observed in shallow water. They use their long body cavity and large, oily livers to regulate their buoyancy.

Feeding Behavior (Ecology)

Smalltooth sand tiger sharks, Odontaspis ferox, feed on small bony fishes, squids and crustaceans.

Life History

Smalltooth sand tiger sharks are ovoviviparous, probably with uterine cannibalism. Two young born at 105 cm or larger. Distinct pairing with embrace.

Ovoviviparous: eggs are retained within the body of the female in a brood chamber where the embryo develops, receiving nourishment from a yolk sac. This is the method of reproduction for the "live-bearing" fishes where pups hatch from egg capsules inside the mother's uterus and are born soon afterward. Also known as aplacental viviparous.

Conservation Status & Comments

Smalltooth sand tiger sharks, Odontaspis ferox (Australian subpopulation), are listed as Vulnerable (VU A2abd+3bd+4abd) with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:

VULNERABLE (VU)
A taxon is Vulnerable when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria A to E for Vulnerable (see Section V), and it is therefore considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

Harmless. Not implicated in attacks on people. Flesh utilized for human consumption and liver for its high squalene content.

References & Further Research

Featured Elasmobranch – Smalltooth Sand Tiger Shark @ Pacific Shark Research Center at MLML
Smalltooth sandtiger (Odontaspis ferox) - The Shark Trust
Sandtiger Shark, Odontaspis ferox (Risso, 1810) - Australian Museum
World Wide with Carl Roessler
Up Close and Personal With Elusive Shark: Discovery News

Research Odontaspis ferox » Barcode of Life ~ BioOne ~ Biodiversity Heritage Library ~ CITES ~ Cornell Macaulay Library [audio / video] ~ Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) ~ ESA Online Journals ~ FishBase ~ Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department ~ GBIF ~ Google Scholar ~ ITIS ~ IUCN RedList (Threatened Status) ~ Marine Species Identification Portal ~ NCBI (PubMed, GenBank, etc.) ~ Ocean Biogeographic Information System ~ PLOS ~ SCIRIS ~ SIRIS ~ Tree of Life Web Project ~ UNEP-WCMC Species Database ~ WoRMS

Search for Smalltooth Sand Tiger Sharks » ARKive ~ Ask.com ~ Bing ~ dmoz ~ Flickr ~ Google ~ OceanFootage ~ Picsearch ~ Wikipedia ~ Yahoo! Images ~ YouTube

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