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Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest

Swellshark

Swellshark

(Cephaloscyllium ventriosum)

The swellshark is found in warm waters of the western Pacific from central California to southern Mexico, as well as off the coast of Chile. It is a bottom-dwelling shark that prefers rocky, algae-covered areas from shallow waters to depths to 1,500 feet. This species is usually solitary, but can often be found piled on top of one another while resting on the bottom.

The swellshark has a stout body with a flat head and short snout. It ranges in color from reddish-brown or yellow-brown with large dark bands and white or yellow spots. This shark can reach just over 3 feet in length. Its large mouth contains 55 to 60 teeth in both the upper and lower jaws.

Look for the swellshark hiding among the rocks in the kelp forest exhibit of the Cold Water Quest gallery.

Fun Facts

  • The swellshark gets its name from its ability to swallow large amounts of water, swelling its body to twice its normal size to deter predators.
  • It feeds at night on small fishes and crustaceans.
  • The female lays eggs encased in a rectangular case with tendrils that attach them to the bottom.
  • Young emerge from the egg at about 6 inches in length.
  • The swellshark is often taken as by-catch in commercial fishing nets and traps.
  • Download full fact sheet

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