Chiloscyllium arabicum | UAE National Red List of Marine Species: Reef-building corals, cartilaginous fishes and select bony fishes

Chiloscyllium arabicum | Gubanov, 1980
Countries in Assessment
United Arab Emirates
Country ISO code(s)
Does the assessment cover a marine EEZ area(s)?
Scope (Assessment)
Taxonomic Group
Taxonomic Group Level 2
Assessed taxon level
Taxonomic Notes
This species was first described by Gubanov and Schleib (1980) but Dingerkus and DeFino (1983) described it as a separate species, Chiloscyllium confusum, without mention of C. arabicum. Compagno (1984) provisionally recognized C. arabicum but noted it was apparently very close to C. punctatum. Dingerkus and DeFino's account clearly establishes this species as separate from C. punctatum (Compagno 2001). This species has been widely misreported as C. griseum, at least in the Arabian Gulf, and the distribution of these two similar species requires clarification. There is a high need for taxonomic investigation regarding species in the genus Chiloscyllium in the Arabian Sea region (D. Ebert pers. comm. 2017).
Taxon distribution as listed in assessment
The Arabian Carpetshark occurs throughout UAE waters. Globally, it is restricted to the Arabian Sea region from the Arabian Gulf to India. Records from Oman require confirmation. Another Chiloscyllium species, which is similar to the Arabian Carpetshark and possibly undescribed, may occur in northwestern India (R.W. Jabado pers. comm. 07/02/2017).
Habitats and Ecology
Ecological system type
Terrestrial system
Freshwater system
Marine system
Habitat details as listed in assessment
The Arabian Carpetshark occurs in coastal waters in coral reefs, lagoons, rocky shores, muddy bottoms and mangrove estuaries from 2-100 m. This shark is less than 10 cm total length (TL) at birth, but grows to a maximum length of 80 cm TL (Weigmann 2016). Females mature at 52 cm TL and males at about 55 cm TL (Moore and Peirce 2013). The species is oviparous, with single egg cases developing in each uterus. It appears to be closely associated with coral reefs. Age data are not available, but generation length is estimated as 9 years using data from the similar-sized White-spotted Bambooshark (C. plagiosum) (Chen et al. 2007).
Is there a map available in assessment?
Assessed status
Asessment status in full
Near Threatened
Assessment status abreviation
Assessment status criteria
Assessment rationale/justification
The Arabian Carpetshark occurs throughout UAE coastal waters, and is common in the Arabian Gulf. This species is not targeted or valued in markets of the UAE, trawling has been banned there since 1980 and recently conducted surveys frequently detected it in the area. It is not targeted in the Arabian Sea region, but appears to be a major component of bycatch in trawl (and other) fisheries, and is typically discarded due to its small size and low market value. It has a close association with coral reef and estuarine habitats, which are prone to degradation and loss in the Gulf due to coastal development and impacts to benthic communities from demersal trawling. It is especially susceptible to exploitation (target and bycatch) in many largely unregulated gill net, longline and trawl fisheries that operate within its range outside and surrounding UAE waters. Some management measures are now in place in the Arabian Sea region, although domestic fisheries are likely to continue. Though data specifically from the UAE are not available, individuals in the UAE are a component of a larger, interconnected and migratory population that occurs broadly in the north-western Indian Ocean. It is inferred that declines reported in the Arabian Sea region are representative of its status in the UAE. Based on recorded levels of exploitation and decline in habitat quality, it is suspected to have declined by 20-30% over the past three generation lengths, or about 27 years. It is listed as Near Threatened, nearly meeting the thresholds for Vulnerable A2cd.
About the assessment
Assessment year
Assessors/contributors/reviewers listed
UAE National Red List Workshop
Affliation of assessor(s)/contributors/reviewers listed on assessment
Assessor affiliation specific
Criteria system
Criteria system specifics
IUCN v3.1
Criteria system used
Criteria Citation
IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1, Second edition. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. iv + 32pp pp. And IUCN. 2012. Guidelines for Application of IUCN Red List Criteria at Regional and National Levels: Version 4.0. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN. iii + 41pp.
Endemic to region
Endemism Notes
Is an endemic?: Not_assigned
Threats listed in assessment
Information pertaining to threats specific to the UAE are unavailable. This species is impacted by target (for fins and their valuable meat) and bycatch fisheries that are active elsewhere in its range. The Arabian Carpetshark is known to have close association with coral reef habitats, which are particularly prone to anthropogenic degradation and the effects of climate change (Carpenter et al. 2008, Normile 2016). In the Gulf, habitat degradation threats include impacts from the damming of the Tigris-Euphrates river system in Turkey and draining of the Iraqi marshes (Al-Yamani et al. 2007), chronic and acute (e.g., war-related) releases of oil, rapid large-scale coastal development (e.g., megastructures in the UAE), and disturbance of benthic communities due to demersal trawling. Coastal land reclamation has accelerated in this area in recent years and, as a result, coastal reefs and other habitat have been destroyed. This has also resulted in the almost total loss of mangrove areas around Bahrain (Morgan 2006a). High levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and benzo [a] pyrene have been reported from this species in Kuwait (Al-Hassan et al. 2000). Corals in the UAE and Arabian Gulf have severely declined due to the increasing frequency of mass bleaching events caused by rising water temperatures, which is a consequence of climate change, as well as pervasive coastal development (Riegl et al. 2018, Burt et al. 2019).
Conservation Measures

Conservation measures:
Conservation measures notes:
Required conservation measures:

Scientific Name Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Chiloscyllium arabicum Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Orectolobiformes Hemiscylliidae Chiloscyllium