Scientific Name: Triakis semifasciata
Common Name: Leopard Shark
Distribution and Habitat: The Leopard Shark is one of the most common near-shore sharks along the Pacific coast of North America, ranging from Oregon to Mazatlan, Mexico, including the Gulf of California. It is commonly found in bays and estuaries, but also occurs along the open coast and offshore islands, usually at shallower depths but at times down to 91 m. It is found in Northeast and eastern central Pacific: Oregon, USA to Mazatlan, Mexico, including the northern Gulf of California. This species is commonly found in bays and estuaries (including Elkhorn Slough, Drakes Estero, and San Francisco, Tomales, Humboldt, Morro, Santa Monica, San Pedro, Alamitos, Anaheim, Newport, Mission, and San Diego Bays in California) but is also found along the open coast and around offshore islands. This shark occurs in cool to warm temperate waters, both inshore and offshore. It is most often found on or near the bottom in shallow water from the intertidal to 20m depth, and less commonly down to 91m depth, in flat sandy areas, mud flats, and bottoms strewn with rocks near rocky reefs and kelp beds. The leopard shark is commonly found in shallow, enclosed, muddy bays, often entering them as the tide rises and leaving when it retreats.
Anatomy and Appearance: The most unique feature of the Leopard shark is its magnificent coloration. It has prominent black saddle markings and large to medium black spots along its dorsal side. Its ventral belly is an off-white/cream color and the rest of its body is an almost metallic bronze/silver/brownish grey. Its body its rather stout and robust with a short blunt snout. The Leopard shark usually averages around 1.2-1.5 m (3.9-4.9 ft.).
Diet, Hunting and Feeding Behavior: This shark is an opportunistic benthic feeder, devouring a variety of invertebrates and fishes, including the fat innkeeper worm (Urechis caupo), crustaceans (grapsid crabs and shrimp), clam siphons, teleosts, fish eggs, and small elasmobranchs. They may disturb the mud and use suction to capture prey. Their diet shifts with the season and the size of the shark. Pups caught in the surf zone along sandy oce
an beaches in southern California reportedly feed heavily on sand crabs and presumably other sandy-bottom invertebrates. Predators on leopard sharks include the sevengill shark (Notorynchus cepedianus), and the great white shark (Carcharadon carcharias); however humans are probably the most influential predator. Strong swimming and nomadic, they are known to suddenly appear in an area, and then move on, possibly in relation to feeding or reproductive behaviour. They often occur in schools, sometimes with smoothhounds, spiny dogfishes, sevengills, and bat rays. Schools are often segregated by sex and size, and newborn leopard sharks have also been observed to form loose schools.
Note: This image is a stock image taken from online sources, this is not Namyr copyrighted work.
Carlisle, A. & Smith, S.E. 2009. Triakis semifasciata
. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2.