The Australian swellshark
or draughtboard shark
, Cephaloscyllium laticeps
, is a species
, family Scyliorhinidae
to southern Australia
. This bottom-dwelling
species can be found on the continental shelf
down to a depth of 220 m (720 ft). Usually measuring 1 m (3 ft) long, it is a stout-bodied, broad-headed shark with a short tail and a first dorsal fin
much larger than the second. It can be identified by its variegated dorsal coloration of brown or gray patches and numerous spots.
Australian swellsharks are sedentary and mainly nocturnal, with most individuals remaining within the same local area throughout the year. It feeds on small crustaceans, cephalopods, and fishes. When threatened, it responds by rapidly taking in water or air to inflate its body, hence the name "swellshark". This shark is oviparous and females lay pairs of distinctively ridged egg capsules at 20–30 day intervals. The eggs hatch after 11–12 months. Harmless and of little commercial interest, many Australian swellsharks are caught incidentally in gillnets and bottom trawls but usually survive to be released because of their extreme hardiness. As a result, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed this species as of Least Concern.