What kind of shark can walk on land?

Answered by Stephen Mosley

One unique species of shark that is known for its ability to “walk” on land is the Epaulette shark, scientifically known as Hemiscyllium ocellatum. These sharks are fascinating creatures that possess a distinctive adaptation which allows them to move across the ocean floor or even on dry land using their paddle-shaped fins.

The Epaulette shark is relatively small in size, measuring about 3 feet long on average. It has a slender body with a flattened head and a short snout. While they may not be the largest sharks in the ocean, they certainly stand out due to their remarkable locomotion technique.

One might wonder how exactly these sharks are able to walk. Well, it’s important to note that their walking motion is not the same as that of terrestrial animals. Instead of lifting their bodies off the ground and moving their limbs in a typical walking fashion, Epaulette sharks utilize their pectoral and pelvic fins to crawl along the seabed or propel themselves forward on land.

These paddle-shaped fins are well-suited for this purpose, allowing them to grip the substrate and push themselves forward in a manner reminiscent of walking. This unique adaptation enables them to navigate shallow reef environments, where they hunt for small invertebrates such as crabs, shrimp, and small fish.

Interestingly, Epaulette sharks are also capable of surviving in low-oxygen environments, such as tide pools or isolated rock pools, by slowing their metabolic rate and breathing through their spiracles – small openings located behind their eyes. This remarkable ability enables them to remain out of water for extended periods of time, making it possible for them to traverse short distances on land.

In terms of their behavior, Epaulette sharks are primarily nocturnal and tend to be more active during the night. During the day, they often seek refuge in crevices or burrows to avoid predators and conserve energy. However, when the tide recedes, they may venture out onto the exposed shoreline in search of food.

It is worth noting that while Epaulette sharks have the capability to walk on land, it is not their preferred method of locomotion. They primarily use their unique walking technique to navigate in shallow waters or move between tide pools. Their ability to walk on land is more of an adaptive behavior that allows them to exploit different habitats and food sources rather than a true terrestrial locomotion.

The Epaulette shark is a fascinating species that possesses the ability to walk using its specialized fins. While they are not the only shark species capable of this behavior, they are certainly one of the most well-known. Their ability to move across the ocean floor or on land showcases the incredible adaptations that sharks have evolved over millions of years to survive in diverse environments.