Lemon shark

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Scientific name

Negaprion brevirostris

Family

Carcharhinidae

Size

Up to 3.4 meters (11 feet)

Lifespan

Around 30 years

Did you know?

Lemon shark females can mate with more than one male per mating season, and a single litter from one female can have up to five different sires. This phenomenon is known as multiple paternity and is thought to help increase the survival of the offspring, as it increases genetic diversity.

About Lemon sharks

Lemon sharks can be identified by their two equally-sized, large dorsal fins. Juveniles spend most of their early years sheltered in mangrove habitats where few large sharks can swim, expanding their range as they grow. Some adult lemon sharks form loose aggregations made up of around 20 similarly sized sharks of the same sex, and tend to spend the daytime in deeper waters, coming into shallower habitats at night. Females return to shallow mangrove nurseries to give birth, and some adults make long seasonal migrations.

Photos credits: Pete Oxford & Wikimedia

Diet

Like many other species of sharks, the diet of lemon sharks changes as they grow. Small juveniles in mangrove nursery habitats consume mostly benthic organisms such as shrimps and crabs, then their preference shifts to mostly fishes as they get bigger and become more adept at hunting.

Distribution

The lemon shark’s distribution is relatively small, occurring in the tropical western Atlantic Ocean from the mid-US to Brazil, the northeast Atlantic Ocean from Mauritania to Angola, including Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe, and in the eastern tropical Pacific from Mexico to Ecuador. They are found around coral reefs and mangrove fringes to a depth around 100 meters.

Fun facts

  • There are two species of lemon sharks in the world, which are the only two members of the genus Negaprion. The sharptooth lemon shark (Negaprion acutidens) occurs only in the tropical Indo-west and central Pacific Ocean.

Lemon shark photo gallery

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