Scientific Name: Stegostoma fasciatum
Common Name: Zebra Shark, Spotted Nurse Shark, (Sometimes called a Leopard Shark as an adult due to its spots, however this an error as the Leopard Shark is a different species entirely.)
Distribution and Habitat: A tropical water species, the Zebra shark is found: in the Indo-Pacific region, from South Africa to the Red sea, the Persian Gulf, Madagascar, Maldives, India, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Palau, Taiwan, Japan, New Caledonia, Tonga, and Northern Australia. Zebra sharks frequent intertidal zones to depths of over 200 feet. However they prefer as adults to remain near coral reefs and sandy bottomed areas. Zebra sharks have been known to make oceanic voyages and have been documented living near sea mounts and coral islands hundreds of miles from continental land masses.
Anatomy and Appearance: The Zebra Shark is a rather docile species of shark. Named for their characteristic stripes at birth, the zebra shark then outgrows their stripes which then change into spots. These spots in adulthood are why so many people refer to them in error as "Leopard Sharks". The Zebra shark is generally a golden light brown with dark brown to black spots as an adult, although while still young the Zebra shark is brightly colored with a yellow/white belly and yellow stripes and spots patterning its dark brown dorsal area. The Zebra Shark is built rather stockily with a cylindrical body and a short, blunt snout. It has two barbels near its nostrils and its eyes are extremely small located on either side of the head. There are five ridges along the dorsal side of the shark, the central one merging into the shortened dorsal fin. Its caudal fin is notched at the top, and is nearly as long as the entire rest of the sharks body. The lower lobe of the caudal fin is very small and serves mainly as a stabilizer for the upper lobe of the fin. Its Pectoral fins are broad and very large for its body size. The zebra shark attains a length of 2.5 m (8.2 ft), with an unsubstantiated record of 3.5 m (11.5 ft). Males and Females of this species are not dimorphic in size.
Diet, Hunting and Feeding Behavior: The Zebra shark is most active after dark than in the daylight hours. During the day it is usually found resting in sandy channels or near coral reefs. The Zebra shark can stop swimming and rest on the bottom for long periods of time, and is often seen facing into a current while opening and closing its mouth to facilitate respiration. Once night falls the Zebra shark turns into a strong agile swimmer while it hunts for shelled mollusks. It is also known to feed on crustaceans, small bony fishes, and even occasionally sea snakes. The Zebra shark is able to wedge itself into rocky or coral openings to then "push/suck out" potential prey items with its powerful buccal cavity.
Note: This image is a stock image taken from online sources, this is not Namyr copyrighted work.