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Scientific Name: Triakis semifasciata
The leopard shark, is a beautiful, harmless shark with leopard-like markings. It has a long grey body with mottled bars of black or brown. The underside is white. It has two dorsal fins and five-gill slits. They are sometimes confused with the zebra/leopard shark of Australia, which belongs to a different family.
These sharks can live up to 25 years or more. The oldest record was a 30 year old male.
They occur on the Pacific coast between Baja California and Oregon and in the Gulf of California. They are found in the rocky inter-tidal zone, on mudflats, in coastal areas and kelp beds. They usually live in the shallows but can go to depths of 90m.
The leopard sharks love to feed on worms, shrimps, crabs, fishes, fish eggs and clams. They are known to prey on fish as large as bat rays.
Leopard sharks are strong swimmers, and social in behavior. They form large schools while travelling.
They are ovoviviparous, giving birth to live young that develop from eggs hatched inside the body. There can be between 4 and 30 pups in a litter, usually born during spring.
They congregate in warm, shallow waters well after the breeding season. This could be to speed up the metabolism and allow shorter pregnancies in females, but this theory is not yet proven.
Commercial and sport fishermen and divers catch leopard sharks. This is a slow-growing species that is late to reproduce so it is important that stocks are managed and not overfished.
Statistics: These sharks grow to around 2m and weigh up to 8kg. Females are larger than males.
Leopard shark Classification:
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