Did you know that there are really tough sharks? One of them, the Australian swellshark (Cephaloscyllium laticeps, also called nutcracker shark or sleepy joe) is able to survive for more than a day out of water.

As its name suggested, the Australian swellshark is to be found abundantly in coastal waters of southern Australia from close to shore to a depth of  720 ft -220 m. It lives on seaweed or rocky reefs and feeds on crabs and rock lobsters (maybe thus the name nutcracker shark and its bad reputation since it often enters lobster traps in search of any easy meal), but also squids and small fishes. Due to the fact that even large-sized prey tends to be swallowed whole, its long periods of rest during the day may relate to digestion. It is a sluggish swimmer that is more active at night.

Like all swellsharks, the Australian swellshark swallows air or water to inflate its belly in case of emergency. Usually measuring 3 ft -1 m- long, it can grow up to 4.9 ft -1.5 m- long. Males mature sexually at a length of 28 to 34 in -71 to 87 cm- and females at 30 to 34 in -75 to 86 cm. Like almost all catsharks, females lay egg cases, using curly tendrils at each end to anchor them. The egg cases of the Australian swellshark have got distinguishing ridges. After usually eleven to twelve months, the young hatch and are miniature versions of the adults at 6 in -14 cm- long.

Often being caught accidentally as bycatch by the southeastern Australian shark gillnet fishery, this extremely hardy species normally survived being caught and released. But recently in parts of Tasmania bottom trawlers have begun to commercially fish for this shark as a source of flake (a generic term for all kind of shark meat used in Australian fish and chips).

Sources: here and here

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