Crested Hornshark: Heterodontus galeatus

Family: Heterodontidae
Common name(s)

Crested Hornshark, Crested Bullhead Shark.


Heterodontus galeatus.


Cestracion galeatus, Heterodontis galeatus, Molochophrys galeatus.


Stout body. Large square head with highly prominent ridges above eyes. Two tall dorsal fins with rounded apexes; each with a spine at its origin. First dorsal fin origin level with pectoral fin insertion. Second dorsal fin origin level with pelvic fin posterior margin. Pectoral fins much larger than first dorsal. Pelvic fins roughly equal to second dorsal fin. Anal fin large and long. Caudal fin large, with prominent subterminal notch.
Dorsal coloration cream, light brown, or greyish with large dusky blotches.


Maximum length at least 130cm (Last and Stevens 2009), but possibly more than 150cm.

Crested Hornshark, Heterodontus galeatus.

Conservation Status


The Crested Hornshark (Heterodontus galeatus) is not targeted commercially. When taken as bycatch, post-release survivorship is probably high based on studies of the closely related Port Jackson Shark. However, the Crested Hornshark is far less common than the PJS, which puts it at greater risk.

Crested Hornshark, Heterodontus galeatus.

Warm temperate and sub-tropical seas. The crested bullhead shark inhabits rocky reefs, kelp, and seagrass beds. Found from the intertidal zone to 93m.


Southwest Pacific in eastern Australia from Cape Moreton in southern Queensland south to Batemans Bay in New South Wales.


Oviparous. Like other heterodontids, the Crested Hornshark lays auger shaped egg cases.


The Crested Bullhead Shark’s diet is mainly composed of sea urchins, as well as other invertebrates, and small fishes.


Moves into shallow water during the winter months.

Reaction to divers

Very easy to approach. Remains motionless unless closely molested, at which point the crested hornshark usually swims a short distance away and resettles.

Diving logistics

Crested hornsharks are easy to find at a few different spots along the coast of New South Wales. Fly Point in Nelson Bay is a great place to shore dive with this species. In the summer, they tend to stay deeper i.e. around 30m. In the winter, they migrate into the shallows.
Crested hornsharks are also common at Manly and other dive sites around Sydney.

Similar species

Port Jackson Shark Distinguished by lower brow ridges above eyes and dark bridle-like pattern on a light grey background.

Zebra Bullhead Shark Distinguished by vivid pattern of zebra-like vertical stripes.