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Mustelus antarcticus Günther, 1870

Gummy shark
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Native range | All suitable habitat | Point map | Year 2100
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Mustelus antarcticus   AquaMaps   Data sources: GBIF OBIS
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Mustelus antarcticus
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Australia country information

Common names: Australian smooth hound, Eastern spotted gummy shark, Flake
Occurrence: endemic
Salinity: marine
Abundance: abundant (always seen in some numbers) | Ref: Compagno, L.J.V., 1984
Importance: commercial | Ref: Compagno, L.J.V. and V.H. Niem, 1998
Aquaculture: | Ref:
Regulations: restricted | Ref:
Uses: no uses
Comments: Type locality of Mustelus antarcticus and Mustelus walkeri, north-east of Hinchinbrook Island, Queensland and which is known from upper continental slope of northeastern Australia from off Hinchinbrook I. to Moreton I., Queensland , 52-403 m (Ref. 76951). Commercial fishery: Major component of the Southern Shark Fishery. The meat is sold under the name 'flake' and is very popular in Victoria and Tasmania. Its catch increased after 1972 when the sale of school sharks was banned due to their high mercury content. Aside from the specialist shark fishers, gummy sharks are often taken by other fishers as a substitute when their main fishery is affected by closed seasons or poor catch rates. Also taken as bycatch by demersal otter trawlers in the South East Fishery. About 10% of the total Australian gummy shark catch comes from waters off Western Australia (Ref. 6080). Fishing methods include monofilament gillnets, longlines, handlines, and droplines. Fishers in Bass Strait use 6-inch gillnets while 7-inch gill nets are being utilized in South Australia. Longlines are still being used by fishers from Tasmania. Recreational fishery: Handlines and gillnets (only in Tasmania) are being used by recreational fishers in bays, inlets and ocean beaches. The heaviest specimen recorded from the recreational fishery was caught in Western Australia at 23.9 kg. (Australian Anglers Association records). Resource status: Overfishing has occurred in the Southern Shark Fishery as evidenced by trends in catch per unit of effort and fishery simulation models. Assessments done in 1991 and 1992 concluded that gummy sharks are overexploited. An estimated sustainable yield for gummy and school shark was 1200 t per annum (1992 estimate) which was less than half the 1993 catch of both species. This estimate, however, is quite uncertain due to various factors. The shark fishery resource in Western Australia was fully exploited (in 1993) as suggested by the downward trend in the gummy shark catch per unit effort (Refs. 13841, 13842). Also Ref. 244, 7300, 13563.
National Checklist:
Country Information:
National Fisheries Authority:
Occurrences: Occurrences Point map
Main Ref: White, W.T., S. Arunrugstichai and G.J.P. Naylor, 2021
National Database:

Common names from other countries

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes(genus, species) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays) > Carcharhiniformes (Ground sharks) > Triakidae (Houndsharks) > Triakinae
Etymology: Mustelus: Latin, mustela, -ae = weasel (Ref. 45335);  antarcticus: Named for Terry Walker (Department of Primary Industries, Victoria).  More on author: Günther.

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Marine; demersal; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 0 - 403 m (Ref. 76951), usually ? - 80 m (Ref. 6871).   Temperate; 28°S - 44°S

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Eastern Indian Ocean: endemic to southern Australia, from Western Australia through Bass Strait to Tasmania and northern New South Wales. Possibly extends northward to southern Queensland and Shark Bay in Western Australia. Confused with another undescribed species whose southern distribution extends to Dampier (20°40'S) (possibly Shark Bay) in the west and Bowen (20°S) (possibly Coffs Harbor) in the east. There is a single stock of gummy sharks in the area, however, regional stock differences might still exist.

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm 119.5, range 85 - 130 cm
Max length : 157 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 244); 175.0 cm TL (female); max. published weight: 30.8 kg (Ref. 40637); max. reported age: 16 years (Ref. 6390)

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

An inshore and offshore shark found from intertidal waters (Ref. 13563) to a depth of 350 m. Feeds on crustaceans, marine worms and small fishes (Ref. 13563), also cephalopods. Forms schools by sex and size . Ovoviviparous (Ref. 50449). Newborn and juvenile gummy sharks are found in many areas across southern Australia, but no well-defined nursery areas have been identified. These sharks are capable of long migrations, females traveling longer distances than males (Ref. 6390). Utilized fresh for human consumption (Ref. 6871). Maximum length data for female species is taken from Ref. 6390.

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Ovoviviparous but aplacental, with 1 to 38 pups. Embryos feed solely on yolk (Ref. 50449). Gestation period ranges from 11-12 months. Newborn and juvenile gummy sharks aggregate in many areas across southern Australia but it is not known whether they inhabit defined shallow-water nursery areas. Ovulation takes place in Oct.-Dec. or Nov.- Feb. (WA). Parturition is complete by the following Dec. (Ref. 6390). The sharks are born at 30-35 cm (Ref. 6871).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator : Compagno, Leonard J.V. | Collaborators

Compagno, L.J.V., 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 4. Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Part 2 - Carcharhiniformes. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(4/2):251-655. Rome: FAO. (Ref. 244)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 123251)

  Least Concern (LC) ; Date assessed: 15 April 2015

CITES (Ref. 123416)

Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Harmless (Ref. 13563)

Human uses

Fisheries: commercial; gamefish: yes
FAO(Publication : search) | FishSource |

More information

FAO areas
Food items
Food consumption
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Egg development
Larval dynamics
Aquaculture profile
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Stamps, Coins Misc.
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Estimates based on models

Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969): 14.1 - 19.8, mean 16 (based on 126 cells).
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00234 (0.00106 - 0.00516), b=3.14 (2.96 - 3.32), in cm Total Length, based on LWR estimates for this Genus-BS (Ref. 93245).
Trophic level (Ref. 69278):  4.5   ±0.59 se; based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (K=0.04-0.30; tm=4-6.9; tmax=16; Fec=1-38).
Fishing Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  High to very high vulnerability (74 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Medium.