Cephaloscyllium Ventriosum



Coral Reefs, Nearshore, Continental Shelf, Kelp Forests

10 - 22 pounds

32" - 43"

Swell Shark

Also Known As: Puffer Shark, Pacman Shark

Swell Shark (Cephaloscyllium ventriosum) Fish Description

The Swell Shark is a member of the catshark species (these are ground-dwelling sharks). They have broad heads and large gold eyes. They’re yellow-brown in color with white spots all over its body. They like to reside in algae-covered crevices, kelp-beds, or coral reefs where they can blend with their surroundings. It thrives in warm subtropic waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean. Their gills are small and so are their tightly packed teeth, but they can open their mouths wide.

Swell Sharks are nocturnal ambush predators that prey on small unsuspecting fishes, crustaceans; shrimps and crabs, and invertebrates such as squid. They also feed on fish carcasses that sunk to the bottom of the ocean.


Interesting Facts about the Swell Shark

  • Swell sharks are sociable fishes, they can be seen sleeping next to or on top of other sharks, such as the Horn Shark.  
  • Swell sharks are oviparous (egg-laying), they lay two of their eggs called mermaid pouches attached to rocks, corals, or vegetation.
  • When disturbed, the swell shark expands to approximately double its regular size by swallowing water and bites its tail to prevent the predator from pulling it out of its nest. When anglers catch a swell shark and throw them back to the water, they cant sink immediately because of the air they inhaled during swelling.


Size and Speed of the Swell Shark

The swell shark is pretty small. Its max length caught is 43 inches but the average size is about 35 inches. As of now, there are no records of its weight (maybe you might be the first to submit if you catch one).

It takes 7-10 months for the mermaid pouches to hatch the pups. When swell sharks hatch, they’re only about 5 inches long but they are already self-sufficient.


Distribution and Habitat of the Swell Shark

Swell sharks in the US are primarily found in the eastern Pacific; their range is from the coasts of California down to southern Mexico living in the continental shelves, slopes, kelp forests, or coral reefs. They live i