Shovel Nose Shark

All about the Shovel Nose Shark

The Shovel Nose Shark is just one of the three hundred and fifty plus species of sharks that ride along the ocean currents like marauders looking for caravans of fish to pillage.  The Great Whites are, of course, the lions of the sea—the salt water’s undisputed kings.  Many of the other species, however, simply do not get the press that the Great White gets.  There probably are no heavy metal bands called “Shovel Nose Shark,” and it is unlikely that the next Spielberg will make his name directing a film involving a very angry and determined Shovel Nose Shark.  Though you never know—after all, who had ever heard of a clown fish before Finding Nemo?

 

The Low-Down on the Shovel Nose Shark

Viewed from above this shark looks a bit like an arrow or like a manta ray with a long thick tail coming off its head.  At full maturity, the average male Shovel Nose is about the same length as the height of a short grown man.  (Females grow to the size of an NBA point guard.)  Its head is shaped like the spade in cards and must account for the name of the Shovel Nose Shark.  It is flat shark, somewhat like the hammerhead with a triangular snoot instead of the hammer, but flat in such a way and with eyes atop the head, that makes it clear that is the kind of shark that is comfortable skimming the bottom surfaces of the ocean looking for its prey.  Along the side of its head, it has paired protruding pectoral and pelvic fins without a gap between them.  The three dorsal fins rise up far behind where the pelvic fins end, with the last tail fin rising farther up on top than it descends on the bottom.

With this distinctive look, it is perhaps surprising that the Shovel Nose should have acquired so many names.  Unimaginative names like Bay Shark and Lazy-Gray Shark have been tossed at this unusual creature simply because of ash colored roof and paler underbelly and thankfully, these have been largely contained to certain less imaginative areas of the world.  Some more creative minded types have called it the Black Whaler, even though dolphins are about the largest fish that this shark eats--though not really accurate this is at least more compelling.  The Bull Shark has caught on in some parts despite the fact that it bares little resemblance to that land animal.

 

The Movements of the Shovel Nose Shark

The Shovel Nose is a lover of warmth, trolling the tropical waters for fish that help sustain its hunger.  At a certain time of the year, however, it makes for cooler climates.  Scientists believe that the Shovel Nose likes to do its coupling in these cooler climates.  Sailors have become closely acquainted with these arrow-like sharks since they love to take to the wake behind ships during their migrations.  This unfortunate behavior has played into the hands of some sports fishermen who like to hunt the trailing shark.

When it is not traveling, it tends to prefer to stay near shorelines where it is shallow enough for it to dive to the bottom—their maximum reach in diving being about fifteen yards.  Because of these tendencies, the Shovel Nose often comes across human divers.   

The Love Life of the Shovel Nose Shark

Female Shovel Nose Sharks tend to grow bigger than their male counterparts, reaching to nine feet in length.  Mating, once the female is mature, tends to occur in the spring period of the northern hemisphere when the male and female hook up in cooler waters.  It takes the mother a year and a quarter to bring baby Shovel Noses to term and when they do the typical litter is around ten—each about a third the length of their mother—although some litters can rise to near thirty.

Although you are unlikely to see Hollywood take up the Shovel Nose any time soon, this shark definitely deserves a starring role in our knowledge about the animal kingdom.