Zebra Bullhead Shark: Heterodontus zebra

Family: Heterodontidae
Common name(s)

Zebra Bullhead Shark, Zebra Horn Shark.


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.


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.

Conservation Status


The zebra bullhead shark is of little interest to commercial fisheries, but is caught as bycatch by commercial trawlers and possibly other fisheries in its range. It may also be under threat from destructive fishing practices within its range in Indonesia such as cyanide and dynamite fishing, and habitat destruction.
Utilization in the aquarium trade is rare, but the species is an obvious candidate because of its attractive colour pattern.

Citations and References
Barratt, P. & Cavanagh, R.D. (SSG Australia & Oceania Regional Workshop, March 2003). 2003. Heterodontus zebraThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2003: e.T41825A10574131. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2003.RLTS.T41825A10574131.en. Downloaded on 01 December 2020.


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.