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Leopard Shark Triakis semifasciata


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Leopard Shark
credit: nugunslinger from Lafayette, USA/CCSA

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Family: Carcharhinidae, Requiem Sharks view all from this family

Description Moderately stout body, with short, rounded snout and triangular flaps of skin in front of the nares. Large oval eyes with a nictitating membrane (a protective third eyelid). Furrows at the corners of the mouth extending onto both jaws. Tooth rows number 41–55 in the upper jaw and 34–45 in the lower jaw; each tooth slightly oblique, with smooth-edged cusp in center, 1–2 small cusplets on each side. Teeth are arranged into a flat, "pavement"-like surface with overlapping ridges.

Large first dorsal fin is approximately halfway between pectoral and pelvic fins; second is almost as large as the first and much larger than the anal fin. Pectoral fins wide and triangular. Lower lobe of caudal fin is well-developed in adults but less than half the length of the upper lobe, which has strong ventral notch near the tip. Unique coloration, with prominent black "saddles" and large black spots running along the back, on a silvery to bronzy gray background. The underside is plain, whitish. Adult sharks often have more spots and saddles with lighter centers compared to juveniles.

Dimensions Up to 6'6" (2 m).

Related Species Grey and brown smoothhounds.

Habitat Estuaries, tidal flats & salt marshes, Ocean or bay shallows.

Range California, Northwest.

Discussion Pose almost no danger to humans. Species is caught by commercial fisheries and by recreational anglers and spearfishers. Is prized by the aquarium trade for its attractive appearance and hardiness; may live for over 20 years in captivity.