Wild Fact #97 – These Fins Were Made For Walking – Epaulette Shark

Walking Shark

Photo by Citron (Wikipedia)

Cool Things About The Epaulette Shark

  • Another more common name for the Epaulette Shark, a member of the Long-tailed Carpet Shark family, is none other then The Walking Shark
  • This may sound crazy but the Walking Shark is know for using their fins to “walk” along their coral reef home – Actually, that doesn’t sound too crazy at all until you picture Jaws chasing after you on land
  • These incredible sharks are typically found off the coast of Australia with a few new species found off the coast of Indonesia (the province of Papua)
  • Did we mention that these sharks WALK?!? Yeah, I thought it was worth mentioning again. In fact, let’s learn more about this crazy behaviour.

The Walking Shark

If you can’t tell, I am a little excited (and a little scared) about the idea of a walking shark. Just think, even the deep jungles of the southern hemisphere won’t be safe from shark attacks. Okay, so I am obviously embellishing this a little as the type of walking the sharks do underwater is nothing like normal walking on land. With that said, they will use their broad pectoral and pelvic fins to push off the dynamic coral reef terrain. This motion coupled with their body swaying back and forth makes it appear as if they are walking along the ocean floor and in a way….they are! You know what, instead of just talking about it, why not check out the short video clip of the Walking Shark.


Sharks that Walk - Walking Shark

Photo by Strobilomyces (Wikipedia)

Time To Hold Your Breath

So the Epaulette Shark has evolved fins suitable for walking…big whoop, who can’t walk, right? Well, if you aren’t impressed with their walking then maybe you will be amazed with their other unique adaptation – the ability to survive in oxygen depleted water. You see, when the tide goes out, this shark’s habitat becomes very shallow and loses about 80% of its oxygen. For the record, living in an area that oxygen deprived would be almost impossible, unless you were able to drop your respiration and blood pressure. This is exactly what the Walking Shark does, which slows everything down in their body and allows them to survive for about 3 hours in an area that only has 5% oxygen.

In a laboratory, the Epaulette Shark managed to live for an hour in a habitat that was 30 degrees Celsius and lacking all oxygen. Most animals that can live without oxygen do so at very cold temperatures so this is quite impressive…maybe even more than being able to walk.

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