The first time TFUI founder Melissa saw a zebra shark (Stegostoma fasciatum) was in SeaWorld Orlando. It was an instantly recognizable creature out of all the others: no more than 3.50 m (11.4 ft) long, it's was covered in black spots on a yellow background, a sharp contrast to the gray bodies of others. She almost forgot the awe of seeing one of these the first time... that is until she went to SeaLife Sydney Aquarium and just listened to reactions of those around her. Yes, what an odd shark indeed. One of is common names, "zebra shark," lends to its coloration pattern when the shark is less than 70 cm, a juvenile. The other common name, "leopard shark," is to its adult pattern, as seen in the picture above by Mark Schellekens.
At first, scientists thought these different looking sharks were different species. A generally slow swimmer, they have a very long caudal fin that is almost as long as the rest of its body. Adults have prominent ridges along its dorsal side, something that is absent in juveniles.
These animals tend to be loners, but are sometimes seen in aggregations. They are believed to be most active at night, making them nocturnal hunters. Their choice of prey is usually molluscs and crustaceans, and sometimes an unsuspecting sleeping fish. Rather flexible, they use this as their advantage to squirm into small crevices to catch food.
Zebra sharks are found in warm temperate to tropical waters of the Indian Ocean and west Pacific Ocean, however they are most abundant in Australia, often found on coral reefs. Female zebra sharks lay large, purple-black eggs, with tendrils that help anchor the egg to a sturdy surface.
They are classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List. There are currently no conservation measures in place for zebra sharks.
have you seen these animals in an aquarium?
you may also like:
TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
SEE MELISSA'S TEDx TALK HERE:
SEARCH BY CATEGORIES