The spotted gully shark is a small grey-brown shark covered in small, irregularly spaced black spots which become more prominent as the shark ages. It has large fins for its size, with its first and second dorsal fins being almost the same size - a feature that makes it easily identifiable when compared to similarly coloured catsharks.
It has a stout body and a short, blunt nose with widely spaced nostrils. It has particularly catlike eyes and small, tightly packed teeth that form a pavement-like structure for crushing the shells of crustaceans, and small, sharp central cusps for hooking other prey.
Spotted gully sharks are endemic to the southern African coast, from Walvis Bay in Namibia to Coffee Bay in the Eastern Cape. They occur on sandy and rocky bottoms from the shore to depths of 50m, and feed on crustaceans, cephalopods and small fishes. Although they are active swimmers, their main period of activity is at night.
They are slow to reach sexual maturity, only able to reproduce at about 14 years of age. Gully sharks are ovoviviparous – the embryos hatch from eggs inside the uterus where they feed off their own yolk sacs until they are born, which can be up to 2 years after hatching. Between 6 and 12 pups, measuring 30 to 31cm, are born per litter.
Because of its slow growth rate, long gestation period and short reproductive lifecycle, the gully shark is particularly ar risk or overfishing by recreational fishermen and commercial longlines.
- Also known as a sharptooth houndshark or Sweet William.
- Grows up to 2m log and 50kg. Lives up to 21 years.