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Galapagos bullhead shark

Galapagos bullhead shark
© Galapagos Bullhead Shark Project

Common name:

Galapagos bullhead shark

Scientific name:

Heterodontus quoyi

Spanish name:

Tiburón gato de Galápagos

Conservation status:

Least Concern


Maximum size:

1.1 metres


The Galapagos bullhead shark is a small, inconspicuous, bottom-dwelling elasmobranch that has been present on earth since the early Jurassic period. Despite its discovery 175 years ago, the species has been almost ‘forgotten’ by science, and until recently it was assessed by the IUCN as ‘Data Deficient’. It is thought to grow up to 107cm long and inhabit flat, rocky and boulder-strewn reef areas, where it rests motionless on the bottom. The species range extends around the Galapagos Archipelago and along the Peruvian coast. However, scientists are not yet sure whether the Galapagos and Peruvian populations are the same species, with some believing the Peruvian population is a different species (Heterodontus peruanus). If this is true, it would mean that the Galapagos bullhead shark is the only endemic shark species found in Galapagos.

Unlike larger sharks, Galapagos bullheads are poor swimmers and spend much of their time sedentary, with their large pectoral fins allowing them to crawl along the sea bed. They are nocturnal, foraging only at night for shellfish, crabs and small marine invertebrates, and they regurgitate the hard shells from the prey they eat. They are also the only oviparous (egg-laying) sharks in Galapagos, laying eggs that resemble corkscrews, hidden in crevices away from predators.

Bullhead sharks in Galapagos

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Read more about Galapagos bullhead sharks...

Galapagos bullhead shark
9th Jun 2023
Citizen science Ocean protection

Galapagos Bullhead Shark Project: Citizen science in the Galapagos Marine Reserve

Since its discovery 175 years ago, the Galapagos bullhead shark had been almost ‘forgotten’ from science. So little was known about the species the IUCN had assessed it as ‘Data Deficient’.
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25th Sep 2018
Education and outreach

Shark Day 2018

In July, the Galapagos Bullhead Shark Project (GBSP) team ran their annual Shark Day on San Cristobal island.
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21st Feb 2018
Ocean protection

Updates from the Galapagos Bullhead Shark Project team

Very little is known about the bullhead shark in Galapagos, which is what makes the Galapagos Bullhead Shark Project so vital to their conservation.
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25th Jul 2017
Wildlife facts

Sharks of the Galapagos Islands

Globally there are over 400 known shark species, and 32 of these have been recorded as being present in Galapagos.
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