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Pseudoginglymostoma brevicaudatum:   (click for more)

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Other Combinations:  None.
FAO Names
En - Short-tail nurse shark, Fr - Requin nourrice à queue courte, Sp - Gata nodriza rabicorta.
3Alpha Code: ORX     Taxonomic Code: 1070300902
Scientific Name with Original Description
Ginglymostoma brevicaudatum  Günther, 1866, in Playfair and Günther, Fish. Zanzibar, London: 141, pl. 21. Holotype: British Museum (Natural History), BMNH-1867.3.9.423, stuffed dried adolescent male about 590 mm TL, length in original account 640 mm, Zanzibar.
Diagnostic Features
fieldmarks: Very short barbels, nasoral grooves present but no circumnarial grooves; eyes and gill openings dorsolateral, mouth well in front of eyes, spiracles minute, precaudal tail shorter than head and body, two spineless, broadly rounded, equal-sized dorsal fins and an equally large anal fin, caudal fin short, less than one-fourth of total length, colour dark brown, without spots or other markings.

Head in dorsal or ventral view very broad and parabolic in adults. Snout bluntly rounded in lateral view, short and with preoral length about 34.5 to 41.6% of mouth width. Eyes very small and 0.8 to 1.0% of total length, situated dorsolateral on head and with strong subocular ridges below them; ventral edges of eyes just above level of dorsal ends of gill slits.  Gill openings dorsolaterally situated on head and not visible from below, just reaching horizontal head rim from above.  Nostrils nearly terminal on snout. Nasal barbels very short, stubby, not very tapered, less than 1% of total length, and not reaching mouth. Lower lip not trilobate and without orolabial grooves. Distance between lower labial furrows about 1.2 to 1.4 times their length.  Tooth rows 24 to 27/22 to 27 (adults), functional series at least 3 to 4/4 to 5. Teeth not compressed and not imbricated, functional series not separated from replacement series by toothless space. Tooth crown feet very narrow, cusps large, cusplets very small and one or two on each side; teeth with moderately broad basal ledges. Teeth orthodont and with a central pulp cavity.  Body cylindrical.  Lateral trunk denticles teardrop-shaped and elongated in adults, with a low medial ridge, lateral ridges weak or absent, and with a fairly narrow pointed cusp.  Pectoral fins broad and not falcate in adults, apically rounded. Pectoral-fin origins slightly in front of third gill slits. Pectoral fins semiplesodic and with radials reaching only 55% into fin web, radial segments four. Pelvic fins rounded in adults. Dorsal fins apically rounded. First dorsal-fin origin over or slightly behind pelvic-fin midbases. Second dorsal fin about as large as first dorsal fin. Anal fin about as large as first dorsal fin, with rounded apex. Anal-fin apex about under anal free rear tip, origin about opposite second dorsal-fin origin, posterior margin ends in front of lower caudal-fin origin. Caudal fin short with dorsal caudal-fin margin less than 25% of total length (adults); caudal fin broad and deep with depth 40 to 45% of dorsal caudal-fin margin; no ventral caudal-fin lobe in adults; preventral caudal-fin margin about as long as postventral margin and 80 to 100% of it; terminal caudal-fin lobe moderate and 22.2 to 26.3% of dorsal caudal-fin margin.  Total vertebral count 135 to 143, monospondylous precaudal count 35 to 37, diplospondylous caudal count 49 to 54 and 36 to 39% of total count. Jaws broadly arcuate.  Intestinal valve count 15. 
Geographical Distribution

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Confined to the western Indian Ocean off Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar and possibly Mauritius and the Seychelles.
Habitat and Biology
This little-known inshore bottom shark occurs on the continental and insular shelves of East Africa and Madagascar, but details are lacking on its habitat except that it occurs on coral reefs.Depth data are not available.

The biology of the short-tail nurse shark, including breeding and feeding habits, is poorly known.
An adult or near-adult female had large nidamental glands, suggesting that the species may be egg-laying but this needs confirmation. A female short-tailed nurse shark has lived over 33 years and a male three years in captivity at the Artis Zoo, Amsterdam. These are under study by A. Dral, E. Bruins and P. Bor (pers. comm.), who are preparing a detailed account for publication. Both individuals are alive at the time of writing and the female has laid infertile eggs in strong egg cases two at a time for the past ten years. This suggests that the short-tailed nurse shark is oviparous but needs confirmation. These sharks mate in captivity but so far no eggs have been hatched as the pair eat their eggs.  These sharks are slow-moving, nocturnally active, sit on the open bottom or hide in holes or crevices during the day, and will only move during the day when fed.They eat annelid worms, raw and cooked mussels, cut raw fish and shrimps; presumably the species eats small fishes, molluscs and crustaceans in the wild.The two sharks are non-aggressive in community tanks and the female has been kept with much larger nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum) without incident.
Maximum at least 75 cm; two adult males examined were 59 to 75 cm while a live captive adult male (Artis Zoo, Amsterdam) is 65 cm long; a female examined was immature at 52 cm while another was adolescent at 56 cm and a third was adult or nearly so (with large oviducts and nidamental glands but without oviducal eggs or foetuses) at 53 cm. A captive adult female at the Artis Zoo is 70 cm long.
Interest to Fisheries
Interest to fisheries probably limited, apparently fished locally in artisanal fisheries and landed as a bycatch of other fisheries. The skin of this shark is exceptionally tough, as in other nurse sharks, and is possibly of use for leather. It is readily amenable to captivity and grows to a more reasonable maximum size for smaller aquaria than Nebrius ferrugineus or Ginglymostoma cirratum, but it's status in the aquarium trade is uncertain. It apparently is seldom kept in public aquaria.

Conservation Status : The conservation status of this interesting and distinctive little shark is unknown but is of concern as it has a limited distribution in inshore tropical waters of East Africa and occurs in some areas that currently support heavy inshore fisheries. It could be adversely affected by overfishing and destruction of coral reefs.
Local Names
Zanzibar : Shorttail nurse shark ,  Papa isengezi .
The writer examined the holotype in the British Museum (Natural History) and five other specimens in the collections of the J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology, Grahamstown, South Africa.
Source of Information
Sharks of the world An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Volume 2 Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks (Heterodontiformes, Lamniformes and Orectolobiformes). Leonard J.V. Compagno 2001.  FAO Species Catalogue for Fishery Purposes. No. 1, Vol. 2. Rome, FAO. 2001. p.269.
Anton Dral, Eugene Bruins & Peter Bor (pers. comm.)
Bass, 1986
Bass, D'Aubrey & Kistnasamy, 1975c
Compagno, 1984, 1988
Dingerkus, 1986
Fowler, 1941, 1967a
Garman, 1913
Günther, in Playfair and Günther, 1866
Günther, 1870
Smith & Smith, 1963
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