Zebra Shark

ANIMAL:
Zebra Shark     Stegostoma fasciatum

Type of Animal:
Carpet Shark

Habitat:
Shallow/nearshore/coastal tropical/subtropical coral & rocky reefs, especially sandy areas & sandy flats-also found on coral & rubble bottoms. Have been seen in brackish & freshwater areas-not usually found deeper than 230 ft. Juveniles found in deeper areas as well as shallower habitats like mangroves (sometimes brackish) & seagrass beds.

Location(s):
Indo-Pacific

Appearance:
Cylindrical w/ large slightly flattened head & short blunt snout, adults yellow-brown to grayish-tan w/ dark brown spots, young dark brown w/ white spots/stripes (hence name zebra shark), fading to pale ventral surface, adults have longitudinal ridges. Becomes lighter w/ age.

Food/Diet:
Crabs, shrimp, snails, squid, small fish, sea snakes, sea urchins, bivalves, marine worms

Status in Wild:
Threatened

Conservation:
Breeding in aquariums, marine parks, & zoos

Lifestyle:
Schools of 10-50 individuals or solitary

Additional Info:

Called:
Male
Female
Young-Pup
Group-School
 
Weight:
45-65 lbs

Gestation:
5 months 

Life Span:
15-20 years in captivity, 30 years in wild

Body Length:
Male: 5-9.8 ft
Female: 5.6-8.2 ft
Young: 2.5-3 ft

Tail Length:
Male: 2.5-4.9 ft
Female: 2.8-4.1 ft
Young: 1.25-1.5 ft

Main predators of adults are larger shark species (especially tiger & bull sharks) & crocodiles. Large fish, sharks, & birds prey on young.
 
Threatened due to fishing for meat, habitat degradation, water pollution, dynamiting, use of liver for medicinal purpose, accidental bycatch, shark-fin trade, coastal development, & marine debris.
 
They’re active at night (nocturnal).
 
Sometimes called leopard sharks due to adult pattern.
 
They’re oviparous, releasing egg cases which anchor to bottom substrate w/ hair-like fibers.
 
They’ll squeeze into narrow areas to find food.
 
They use whisker-like barbels to find prey.
 
During courtship, males bite on female’s pectoral fins & tail.
 
Throughout breeding season, females can release up to 50 egg capsules, usually done in 4 batches.
 
Only member of the family Stegostomatidae.
 
Often swim in an eel-like manner.
 
They tend to be slow-moving.

Fun Fact(s):
Combination of small mouth/thick throat/gill muscles come in handy to suck up prey.
 
They’re very docile gentle animals.
 
Due to differing appearance of young & adult animals-once thought to be different species.
 
Parthenogenesis (development of unfertilized egg) has occurred on rare occasions in this species.

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