Animals

19 Fin-tastic Facts About The Gummy Shark For Kids

Here are some gummy shark facts that you must check out to change your perception of sharks!
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Gummy sharks (Mustelus antarcticus) are a species that find their native land in Southern Australia. They are characterized by their blunt teeth, which is quite unlike the sharp teeth that most sharks are known to have. Due to the bluntness of their teeth and the fact that they dwell at the bottom of the sea, they usually feed on mussels, crabs, clams, and smaller fish, whose shells they can easily crush. They are quite slimly built and have dorsal fins that are both roughly of the same size. These pale gray are silver-colored fishes are commonly known in Australia as Sweet William and Australian Smooth Hound, and their flesh is sold in the market at Flake.

They are quite popularly caught and eaten all around Australia due to the sweet flesh and the boneless fillet that they yield. They are widely available all along the shores, and their meek nature assures that no harm is posed to humans.

The fishing industry of Australia is largely benefitted from these slender, friendly sharks. The next time you get Fish and Chips from the local takeaway, notice that it is probably a gummy shark that you are being served!

If you think sharks are amusing creatures, make sure to check out facts about the amazing sandbar shark and reef shark here at Kidadl!

Gummy Shark

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Crustaceans, small fish, cuttlefish

What do they eat?

Carnivore

Average litter size?

14-57

How much do they weigh?

52.9-55.1 lb (24-25 kg)

How long are they?

62-69 in (157-175 cm)


How tall are they?

N/A


What do they look like?

Pale gray, bronze-gray, white spots

Skin Type

Slimy scales

What are their main threats?

Humans, degradation of habitat

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Continental shelf

Locations

Southern Australia

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Chondrichthyes

Scientific Name

Mustelus antarcticus

Family

Triakidae

Genus

Mustelus

Gummy Shark Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a gummy shark?

The gummy shark or Sweet William is a fish that is usually found on the continental shelves and frequently fished along the Australian shores.

What class of animal does a gummy shark belong to?

Scientifically speaking, the class that this particular species of shark belongs to is called Chondrichthyes. Largely, they can be classified as fish.

How many gummy sharks are there in the world?

While there are no studies that tell us the exact number of these fish that there are in the world, their conservation status suggests that they are not endangered and are flourishing!

Where does a gummy shark live?

The Mustelus antarcticus species is most commonly found on continental shelves. Since these are bottom-dwelling fishes, it is not often that you will spot a school when swimming along the shoreline.

What is a gummy shark's habitat?

The preferred habitat for gummy sharks is around Southern Australia. This species does not exhibit any major migratory tendencies. However, some males and females do travel short distances in the later years of their lives.

Who do gummy sharks live with?

Despite what you might think of when you hear the word 'shark' (Mustelus antarcticus) is actually a rather meek variety of sharks. They tend to flee from larger species and from humans as well. They usually prefer to live with their own family, when not undertaking long travels.

How long does a gummy shark live?

The average lifespan of a gummy shark fish or Australian smoothhound is up to 16 years, if not disturbed by any calamities or man-made hazards. They spend all of their lives in the depths of the ocean when not bred in fisheries.

How do they reproduce?

The Mustelus antarcticus is an ovoviviparous shark, which means that the female's eggs, on fertilization, remain inside her body during the entire gestation period. The female then gives birth to the hatched pups. The average litter size is about 14. However, the female fish may carry as few as one and as many as 57 pups in one gestational cycle. The gestation period in this species lasts from 10 - 12 months.

If you're looking for examples of other ovoviviparous animals, you can look up seahorses, great white sharks, nurse sharks, and tiger sharks!

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of Mustelus antarcticus or Flake Shark is said to be of Least Concern by the IUCN. Though they are frequently fished along the shores of Australia, they are not endangered.

Gummy Shark Fun Facts

What do gummy sharks look like?

Mustelus antarcticus or Australian smooth hound or Sweet William is a species of rather slim-looking sharks. They are pale gray or silver in color and have a white-colored belly. Occasionally, you might spot one that has dark brown or white spots on their body. They have flat teeth that are arranged in the shape of a pavement: this allows them to crush the shells of their prey easily. Their teeth and shape are very different than those of the other varieties of sharks that we are usually scared of, and in turn, make them pose no threat to humans.

Their fins are usually of the same length and are pointed, which might let you confuse them with the Killer Sharks or a Giant gummy shark.

Gather your fishing gear and plan a fishing trip if you would like to catch one of these fascinating natives of the Australian sea; the gummy shark!
*Please note, this is an image of a gray smoothhound, a member of the same genus as the gummy shark. If you have an image of the gummy shark, please let us know at hello@kidadl.com.

How cute are they?

With their slim bodies and cute teeth, The gummy sharks are a rather cute species to catch a glimpse of!

How do they communicate?

You will find it interesting that gummy sharks or Australian smoothhounds usually arch their bodies in certain ways in order to communicate with their school! They also have the ability to sense vibrations, and hence, can navigate through the sea with their mates.

How big is a gummy shark?

Gummy sharks' length can be as much as 69 in (175 cm). Females of this shark species usually grow to be larger than males.

How fast can a gummy shark swim?

There are no conclusive studies about the exact speed at which a school of gummy sharks can swim in the sea, but sharks are usually known to have an approximate speed of 12 mph (19.3 kph)!

How much does a gummy shark weigh?

The average weight of the Mustelus antarcticus shark ranges from 55-59 lb (24-25 kg), which is not too heavy for the fishermen to catch if they so wish to!

What are their male and female names of the species?

Males and females of gummy sharks have no names designated to them, so one would usually refer to them as the male gummy shark and the female gummy shark.

What would you call a baby gummy shark?

The baby gummy sharks, like most other young fishes, are called pups.

What do they eat?

The diet of this friendly species of sharks comprises mostly of mollusks and crabs, which they find at the smooth bottoms of the sea in which they dwell. They also occasionally feed on small fishes such as cuttlefish and rays (that are not a part of their school). Given their rather flat teeth, they steer clear of consuming large fish.

Are they dangerous?

A school of gummy sharks is of no danger to humans because of two reasons. They are bottom-dwellers, which keeps them away from the humans that might think of taking a small dip in the sea, and their small size and flat teeth cannot bite that hard or cause any harm to human bodies. They are also bred in fisheries and sold as 'flake' for consumption.

Would they make a good pet?

While their small size might give you the impression that they can be kept as pets, gummy sharks can not easily be domesticated because their habitat is not easy to mimic. Additionally, their diet would also make them very high maintenance for any common household.

Did you know...

Gummy sharks are bred in many fisheries around the world to be sold in markets as pets and food.

They are also an easy catch if you happen to know how to fish!

Gummy sharks and humans

Gummy sharks are popular within Australia - particularly in the fish and chips industry. They are commonly fished for, caught, and sold due to their boneless fillets. They have a mildly sweet taste which pairs well with salted or spicy chips and a fizzy drink!

Do gummy sharks have teeth?

Yes, gummy sharks have teeth, but unlike the other kinds of sharks, their teeth are blunt and rounded. Such a shape makes it easy for them to prey on crabs and mussels by crushing their shells!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these nurse shark facts or basking shark facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable baby shark coloring pages.

*Please note, this is an image of a gray smoothhound, a member of the same genus as the gummy shark. If you have an image of the gummy shark, please let us know at hello@kidadl.com.

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