Australian Ghost Shark is one of the common names of the Callorhinchus milii. Other popular names for this ocean creature include elephant shark and elephant fish.
Despite the name, the Australian Ghost Shark is not actually a shark. In fact, they are a species of Chimera and as such, they are distant cousins of sharks and rays.
Another fascinating fact is that the Callorhinchus milii is a true living fossil. Evidence indicates that they have changed very little in more than 400 million years.
In Australia and New Zealand, the Australian Ghost Shark is caught commercially. Despite this unfortunate practice, their population appears to be stable, so the IUCN currently lists them as a species of Least Concern.
Australian Ghost Shark Physiology and Biology
The Callorhinchus milii attains a maximum size of approximately 49 in (125 cm) in length.
The most easily recognizable physical feature of the species is the club-shaped projection on the end of the snout which they use to search the sandy ocean bottom for prey.
In color, they are typically a silvery white, with dark spots occurring at random locations. Also, the body is generally smooth, and without denticles.
They remain oviparous in nature and feed primarily on a variety of small mollusks and shellfish. They, in turn, are prey for larger fish and sharks.
Australian Ghost Shark Distribution and Habitat
The Australian Ghost Shark inhabits a restricted habitat range. Yet, it remains unclear whether this has always been their endemic area of habitat or if they once inhabited a more extensive range.
Currently, they are present only in the southwest Pacific Ocean, on the continental shelf off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand, including Tasmania.
They primarily prefer waters with a depth of at least 656 ft (200 m). However, during mating season the elephant shark will move into shallower waters. They would even migrate into coastal bays and estuaries during mating season.