Sharks and other food fish caught off St John's Island

Date October 8, 2009

A fisherman's catch: Oriental sweetlips, Bamboo sharks

On my way to Pulau Hantu on Oct 7, Wednesday, I came across a fisherman who’d just returned from his overnight fishing trip off St. John’s island. He’d brought a small group of local recreational fishermen out to sea to fish as well.

Amongst his catch were two Oriental sweetlips Plectorhinchus orientalis, 4 juvenile and 1 adult Coral catsharks Atelomycterus marmoratus (two of which were still alive), and an Orange spotted grouper Epinephelus coioides.

Unlike bony fish which reproduce by spawning, shark pups are born live, either viviparously or ovoviviparously. Once born, the pups are on their own and must defend themselves from predators that include other sharks and even their own species. Shark reproduction produces far fewer offspring than does reproduction by spawning. In a balanced, natural environment, this typically leads to a far greater number of prey animals than of predator animals. The closer an animal is to the top of the food chain, the fewer offspring it bears. (ref.)

In sub-tropical oceans, Bamboo sharks are known to have an average hatching period of 153 days. Warmer temperatures can speed up growth to within 101 days.

It was recently discovered that Bamboo shark eyes also develop fully within their dark egg cases a month before hatching. Why this is so remains a mystery. (ref.)

There’re no laws in Singapore that restrict the kinds of species fishermen can catch, or which limit the catch sizes of these fishes.

Observing the kinds of fishes fishermen catch and finding out the places in which they catch them are useful in monitoring the kinds of fishes that inhibit local reefs. The presence of juvenile sharks might also indicate that there are adults breeding in these areas. The Hantu Blog has encountered Bamboo shark egg cases on Hantu’s reefs while diving and on two occasions came across bamboo sharks trapped in cage traps (bubus)

I checked the prices of these fish with staff at the marina and got the following prices for fresh caught fishes:

Bamboo shark $6/kg
Sweetlips $12/kg
Grouper $16-$20/kg
Parrotfish >$20/kg

The prices of these fish may reflect the demand and motivation of fishermen, as well as the difficultly in catching them.

8 Responses to “Sharks and other food fish caught off St John's Island”

  1. Tony said:

    Interesting information. I never realised people eat bamboo sharks

  2. debby said:

    Hi Tony, I asked how they prepare it and it’s prepared much like the fish in fish and chips. So I suppose they use it here like how flake and spiny dogfish are also used for fish and chips.

  3. Hai~Ren said:

    I’ve seen bamboo sharks being sold alive at Sheng Siong in Bedok.

  4. debby said:

    Yes, live bamboo sharks are sold in a handful of life food fish markets island-wide.

  5. Charlene said:

    Awesome species! Guess they’ll be wiped out soon.

  6. dinesh said:

    those are not juvenile bamboo sharks. they are coral catsharks, atelomycterus marmoratus.

  7. debby said:

    Thanks for the ID correction Dinesh!

  8. dinesh said:

    no problem (:
    slight clarification though, the one larger shark is indeed a bamboo shark – there are two species in that photo.

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