Zebra Shark

Zebra Shark     Stegostoma fasciatum

Type of Animal:
Carpet Shark

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.


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.

Crabs, shrimp, snails, squid, small fish, sea snakes, sea urchins, bivalves, marine worms

Status in Wild:

Breeding in aquariums, marine parks, & zoos

Schools of 10-50 individuals or solitary

Additional Info:

45-65 lbs

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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