Lemon Shark

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Lemon Shark

Lemon sharks are tropical sharks that enjoy shallow waters such as bays and mangrove swamps. Their yellowish coloration helps them blend into the sandy shallows they call home. Though it is not aggressive toward humans, it should be treated with respect and may attack if provoked. They live in the Atlantic Ocean along the coast of North and South America, as well as the western coast of Africa. They are also found in the Pacific along the coast of Central America and the Gulf of California.


Content List

1. Scientific & Common Names

2. Characteristics

a. Breeding

b. Behavior

3. History

4. Present Status

5. References


Scientific & Common Names

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Chondrichthyes

Subclass - Elasmobranchii

Order - Carcharhiniformes

Family - Carcharhinidae

Genus - Negaprion

Species – N. brevirostris

Common Name – Lemon Shark


Characteristics

Lemon sharks are robust sharks that can grow to over 10 feet long. They are typically a yellowish brown color to help camouflage them against the coastal sandy sea bottoms where it roams. Aside from its color, it can be distinguished from other related requiem sharks by its blunt snout and second dorsal fin, which is almost as large or in some cases as large as the first. The lemon shark’s teeth are not serrated, hence its generic name “Negaprion”, which means “not a saw”.


Breeding

Lemon shark young are born live, as opposed to hatching from eggs. Sharks are born in specific nursery areas, where the young sharks may live for many years before traveling to deeper waters. Gestation last 14 months, and females usually give birth to between four and 17 babies, called “pups”.


Behavior

Lemon sharks are active during the day and night, but prefer to feed during the latter. They are specialized feeders who prefer to feed on specific fish of a certain size, depending on range. Lemon sharks prefer to live in loose social groups, and may undertake long migrations in search of food.


History

Lemon sharks are very well known, due to the work of Samuel Gruber of the University of Miami who has studied these sharks since 1967.

Lemon sharks do quite well in captivity and can be found in many aquariums, though they will often eat other fish in their tanks.


Present status

Lemon sharks are listed as “Near Threatened”. They were fished commercially in the 1940s and some fisheries still exist today. Their skin is used for leather and their liver oil is used for vitamin supplements. Their meat is also consumed, and their fins have been used for shark fin soup.

Their population is declining due to overfishing, as well as destruction of the mangroves that they depend on for nurserires.


References

The Sharks of North America, Jose I. Castro, 2011
The Little Guides: Sharks, Edited by Leighton Taylor, 1999
Sharks of the World, 2005, Leonard Compagno, Marc Dando, Sarah Fowler
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_shark