Zebra Bullhead Shark: Heterodontus zebra

Family: Heterodontidae
Common name(s)

Zebra Bullhead Shark, Zebra Horn Shark, Barred Bullhead Shark.


Heterodontus zebra


Centracion philippi, Centracion zebra, Cestracion amboinensis, Cestracion philippi, Cestracion zebra, Heterodontus phillipi.


Stout body. Large square head with prominent ridges above eyes. Two tall dorsal fins, each with a prominent spine at its origin. First dorsal fin origin approximately level with pectoral fin insertion. Second dorsal fin origin posterior to pelvic fin free rear tip. Pectoral fins much larger than first dorsal. Large, triangular caudal fin with deep subterminal notch. Vivid zebra-like black, brown, and white markings.


Maximum length 122cm. Size at birth approx. 15cm.

Zebra Bullhead Shark, Heterodontus zebra, a western Pacific species that ranges from Korea to Northwest Australia. Captive specimen.

Conservation Status


The zebra bullhead shark is caught as bycatch by commercial trawlers and possibly other fisheries within its range, but its preference for rocky terrain afford it some protection.


Tropical/sub-tropical seas. From shallow inshore environments to outer continental shelf. To 50m in the norther part of its range. To 150-200m in Australia.


East Asia. Recorded from Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the northwest coast of Australia.


Oviparous. Reproductive information poorly known.


Feeds on demersal invertebrates and small fishes.



Reaction to divers

Probably easy to approach, but rarely encountered by divers.

Diving logistics

I am not aware of any spots where Zebra bullhead sharks are encountered by divers. If you have encountered this species while diving, please contact us.

Similar species

Painted Bullhead Shark (Heterodontus marshallae) Extremely similar, but distinguished by rounded (rather than V-shaped) marking above the snout.

Japanese Bullhead Shark Distinguished by similar but much more subtle markings.