Journal article Open Access

Review of the bamboo shark genus Hemiscyllium (Orectolobiformes: Hemiscyllidae)

Allen, Gerald R.; Erdmann, Mark V.; White, William T.; Fahmi; Dudgeon, Christine L.

The bamboo sharks, genus Hemiscyllium, comprises a group of nine species mainly restricted to New Guinea and northern Australia, including islands, reefs, and shoals separated from mainland areas by shallow seas. The Indonesian island of Halmahera is the only location lying outside the core region that is inhabited by these sharks. The nine species in the genus are reviewed and their approximate distribution documented, as follows: H. freycineti (Raja Ampat Islands, West Papua); H. galei (Cenderawasih Bay, West Papua); H. hallstromi (Torres Strait, Australia and southeastern Papua New Guinea); H. halmahera (Halmahera, Indonesia); H. henryi (vicinity of Triton Bay, West Papua); H. michaeli (Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea); H. ocellatum (northeastern Queensland, Australia); H. strahani (central coast of northern New Guinea); and H. trispeculare (northwestern Australia and Aru Islands, Indonesia). The most reliable means of identification is color pattern, in combination with geographic distribution: morphology is less useful due to considerable morphological variation, mostly reflecting the highly variable condition of preserved specimens, and meristic comparisons are limited by mostly small sample sizes. Therefore, a key to species based on color pattern is presented, as well as comprehensive illustrative coverage for each species.

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