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Lemon Shark

Lemon Shark ((Negaprion brevirostris)


Lemon Shark Fact Sheet

Appearance:
A short-nosed, stocky shark with small eyes. Snout is wider than long. Both dorsal fins are of equal size. Origin of first dorsal fin over free rear ends of pectoral fins.

Coloration:
Yellow-brownish, with white ventral surface.

Distribution:
Western Atlantic: New Jersey to southern Brazil, Gulf of Mexico, Bahamas and Caribbean. Eastern Atlantic: Senegal to Ivory Coast. Eastern Pacific: southern Baja California to Equador. Most common in the Caribbean.

Biology:
Very common in shore areas, down to a depth of at least 90m. Nocturnal. Can lay motionless on the bottom. Pups stay in shallow water for several years (to be protected from bigger sharks), can withstand lower and higher salinities, and can even penetrate into fresh water. Migration, size and sex segregation is known.

Feeding:
Fishes. Juveniles feed on fishes that live primarily in and around mangroves, although about 20% of the diet is composed of invertebrates. Adult lemon sharks feed on stingrays and eagle rays too, and even small sharks and sea birds.

Size:
Average size between 200cm and 250cm, maximum total length about 320cm.

Reproduction:
Viviparous, with yolksac-placenta (giving birth to live young). Gestation period lasts about 12 months. Females only give birth every second year. 8 to 12 pups per litter. Size at birth between 60cm to 70cm. Pups show a very slow growth and grow only about 10cm to 15cm in their first year of live. Born in shallow waters (nursery grounds). Sexual maturity is reached at 12 to 15 years of age.

Similar species:
Based on their snout, lemon sharks look like the Bull shark ( Carcharhinus leucas ) that has a second dorsal fin that is much smaller than the first one. Based on dorsal fins, the Sandtiger shark ( Carcharias taurus ) looks similar too, but they possess needle-like teeth that can be seen easily since they swim with a very open mouth.

Endangerment:
Not endangered.

Danger to humans:
Potentially dangerous.