The zebra shark (Stegostoma Fasciatum) is a species of carpet shark. It is a nocturnal animal that spends most of the day resting motionless on the sea floor until night time comes and the shark goes out hunting for food.
Zebra sharks are strong and agile swimmers that propel themselves with eel-like wave movements of the body and tail. They tend to be found frequenting coral reefs of the Indo Pacific, in places such as the Maldives.
Zebra Shark Habitat
Zebra sharks favour coral reefs and sandy flats, and are found mainly in the Indo Pacific Ocean. Sometimes zebra sharks cross oceanic waters to reach isolated seamounts but they mainly stay close to the reefs where they can find food and rest.
Zebra Shark Appearance
Zebra sharks have a very distinctive appearance with a low caudal fin that makes up for nearly half of its total length. It also has a pattern of dark spots on a pale background, which is why the shark is sometimes known as the leopard shark. This species can grow up to 2.5 meters in length.
They have slender and flexible bodies perfect for hunting the animals that they eat; their eyes are small and placed on the sides of its head which is very short and with a blunt snout.
Zebra Shark Diet
The zebra shark only hunts at night time since it spends most of the day resting at the bottom of the ocean. But when it’s time to hunt they actively go in search of mollusks, crustaceans, small bony fishes and possibly sea snakes that hide inside holes in the reefs.
Their slender and flexible body allows them to get inside narrow holes and crevices in the reef in order to search for food while using its small and muscled mouth to create a powerful suction action which they use to extract their prey.
Zebra Shark Behavior towards Scuba Divers
Zebra sharks can be docile and slow moving when they are not hunting for their prey; meaning that they are not dangerous to scuba divers and can be easily approached underwater without any problem at all. The only danger that the zebra shark might represent to a human being is if this one decides to pull their tails or ride them; in which case the zebra shark may attack. But if left alone the zebra shark is as docile as a young puppy.
Zebra Shark Reproduction
The zebra shark is oviparous meaning that the female produces several dozen of large egg capsules which she anchors to underwater structures which protects them from any sort of predator that might threaten them.
Threats to Zebra Shark
The World Conservation Union has assessed the zebra shark as vulnerable. This is mainly because of the fact that the shark is taken by commercial fisheries for meat, fins and liver oil. Although they are not endangered species there is evidence that their numbers are going down.