The Epaulette Shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum) is a walking shark that can survive for one hour without any oxygen supply.

Rather than swim, epaulette sharks “walk” by wriggling their bodies and pushing with their muscular paired fins. Their slender bodies also allow them to slip between coral branches and into tight reef fissures.
This shark has evolved to cope with the severe nighttime oxygen depletion (hypoxia) in isolated tidal pools by increasing the blood supply to its brain and selectively shutting down non-essential neural functions. It is capable of surviving complete anoxia for an hour without ill effects, and at a much higher temperature than most other hypoxia-tolerant animals.

Epaulettes live in shallow waters around coral reefs and are known to remain in tidal pools when the water level declines to hunt for the trapped fish, worms and crustaceans. It then clambers along the dry reef while shutting its brain parts off to survive in the severe sunlight and oxygen poor water.

Epaulette sharks are named for the prominent black spot behind their pectoral fins.

« »