Leopard Shark

Leopard Shark      Triakis semifasciata

Type of Animal:

Temperate to tropical waters-coastal waters, bays, sandy bottom areas, estuaries, kelp forest/forest bottoms, littoral waters, sand/mud flats, rocky bottoms near kelp beds, kelp beds, rocky reefs/reef bottoms, gulfs, open coasts, intertidal zones, areas of warm effluent from power plants, open ocean, not found deeper than 300 ft,

Pacific coast of N America from Oregon to Baja California

Moderately stout but fairly slender shark w/ short round snout/flattened head, large oval eyes, dark spots/saddles along back w/ bronze-gray to silvery background, whitish plain underside, adults have more spots/saddles than juveniles, long tapered tail, 2 dorsal fins w/ larger one at midpoint & 2nd one near anal fin, older sharks have paler spot interiors

Clams, shrimp, crabs, octopus, bony fish, fish eggs, marine worms, lobsters, rays, small guitarfish, smaller sharks (occasionally adults eat juveniles)

Status in Wild:

Breeding in aquariums, marine parks, & zoos. Prohibition of gillnets in California waters shallower than 360 ft.

Schools of 50-100. Juveniles often form own schools.

Additional Info:

Young: Pup
Group: School

Male: 35-40 lbs
Female: 25-30 lbs
Young: 5 lbs

8-12 months 

Life Span:
20-30 years

Body Length:
Male: 3.9 ft
Female: 4.9 ft
Young: 1 ft

Tail Length:
Male: 1.3 ft
Female: 1.63 ft
Young: 0.3 ft

Main predators of adults are sevengill sharks, great white sharks, Steller sea lions, & orcas. Variety of marine mammals as well as adult leopard sharks prey on young.
Eggs hatch internally (ovoviviparous), resulting in 1-36 live pups being born. Females often mate right after pups born.
Often seen schooling w/ other smaller shark species as well as bat rays.
Males sexually mature at 7 years old, females at 10 years old.
Can travel 1.24 miles to find food.
They have great senses of sight & smell.
Use suction to grab prey, clenching jaw down & capturing prey between teeth.
Coloration aids in camouflage.
Warmer water observed to accelerate embryonic development in this species.

Fun Fact(s):
Remains widely found in American Indian middens in California.
Using ampullae of Lorenzini near snout, they can detect electromagnetic waves up to 3 ft away, detecting prey hiding under sand or camouflaging itself.
Attacks on humans extremely rare w/ these sharks being very docile & often flighty & shy. Fairly friendly in captivity. 1 attack in 1955 occurred due to spear fisher catching fish, w/ blood smell attracting shark.
Like all sharks, they lack swim bladders, instead storing oil in massive livers to counterbalance own weight.
People can snorkel w/ these sharks during summer in La Jolla, where biggest schools found in breeding season.

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