The Blind Shark Fish is a  nocturnal, bottom-dwelling species that can be found along the eastern Australian coast in rocky areas and seagrass beds from the aquatic environment to a depth of 140 meters (460 ft). The blind Shark Fish (Brachaelurus waddi) is one of two carpet shark species in the Brachaeluridae family, the other being the blue-grey carpet shark (Brachaelurus Colclough).

It frequents tidal pools, where it may become trapped by the receding tide, and can survive for long periods of time out of the water. The common name Blind Shark refers to the species’ habit of closing its eyes when it is taken out of the water.

James Douglas Ogilby named this species Brachaelurus in 1907. Brachaelurus comes from the Greek words brachys, which means “short,” and ailouros, which means “cat.” It and the blue-grey carpet shark were given their own family by Leonard Compagno in 1973. The brown catshark, also known as the dusky dogfish, is another name for this shark.

A blind shark in its habitat beside a rocky cafe
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The International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified it as Least Concern because there are no significant threats to its population. It is not valued by commercial or recreational fishermen, and because of its hardiness, it is likely to be returned to the water alive if accidentally caught.

Blind Shark Fish Habitat and Distribution

The blind shark’s range is limited to Australia’s eastern coast, from Mooloolaba in southern Queensland to Jervis Bay in New South Wales; previous reports from Western Australia and the Northern Territory appear to be brown-banded bamboo shark misidentifications. In high-energy surge zones, juveniles are common. This shark has been seen lying in the open atop sponges in Nelson Bay. Shelters in caves and under ledges during the day and feeds at night on rocky reefs, shorelines, and adjacent seagrass beds.

Blind Shark Fish Body description

  • The blind shark has a broad, flattened head with a blunt snout and a stocky body.
  • The small, oval eyes are high on the head and have prominent ridges beneath them; the oval spiracles are behind and below the eyes and have prominently raised rims.
  • The nostrils are almost at the snout’s tip, with long, tapering barbels in the front and well-developed skin folds and furrows around the incurrent holes.
Blind shark lying gently in its habitat
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  • The pectoral fins have rounded margins and are large and broad.
  • The size of the two dorsal fins is roughly equal.
  • The pelvic fins are almost as large as the pectoral fins and are rounded.
  • The anal fin is about half the size of the dorsal fins and is attached to the long, low caudal fin at its base. With no ventral lobe and a strong ventral notch near the tip of the upper lobe, the caudal fin makes up about a quarter of the total length.

This species has a light to the dark brown upper surface with white flecks and a lighter lower surface. Dark bands cover the body and tail of juveniles, which disappear with age. The blind shark can grow to be 0.9–1.2 meters long.

Blind Shark Fish Diets

This species can survive being stranded by the outgoing tide for up to 18 hours out of the water. During the day, the blind shark is secretive and sluggish, with adults hiding in caves or under cliff edges and juveniles in crevices, although they will eat if given the chance. It forages for small invertebrates such as crabs, shrimp, cephalopods, sea anemones, and bony fishes at night over reefs and seagrass meadows. Suction is used to capture prey items.

Blind Shark Fish Breeding

A blind shark navigating through the water looking for what to eat
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Males and females reach sexual maturity when they reach a length of fewer than 24 inches for males and 26 inches for females. The species is aplacental yolk sac viviparous, which means that the young are born alive after developing from eggs inside the uterus. Females have litters of 7 to 8 young pups in late spring, with a possible annual reproductive cycle, and they are born at a length of 17 cm. In captivity, it has lived to be 20 years old.

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