Creature Feature: Lemon Shark

Lemon Shark Tomas Kotoug Arkive

Lemon Shark (Negaprion brevirostris) is a blunt-nosed and powerful shark reaching up to 11 feet in length. While their color is yellowish to greyish and lacks any distinct markings, they do have two large, almost equal size, dorsal fins which distinguish them from other sharks. The coloring of this predator helps it live in coastal tropical habitats along the Western Atlantic from New Jersey, USA to southern Brazil as well as the west coast of Africa and eastern Pacific, from Baja California to the equator. They have a high tolerance for shallow areas with low oxygen levels, such as those with sea grass, mangroves, and bays.

Young Lemon Sharks have a tendency to stay close to their habitat but adults will often travel to deeper waters. It is thought that they have seasonal migration due to their feeding habits. Lemon sharks love to feed on a variety of osteichthyes (remember the science word for bony fish?), rays, guitar fish, crustaceans and mollusks.

Lemon-shark  Andy MurchThese are common sharks and are fished for both commercially and recreationally. Their meat is often dried, salted and smoked like jerky, while their fins are also a popular commodity. They are known to be a great “aquarium shark,” meaning they do well in aquarium habitats, and are often used in research.

For some reason, the population of lemon sharks in the Florida region has been depleting. Scientists have not isolated a specific cause and as of now there is no management plan. However, collecting knowledge about the species through research is always helpful, should the time ever come to create such a plan.

Check in next week to start our month on sharks that are found in the East Coast of South America.

References:
Edited by KC O’Shea
Photography: Andy Murch and Tomas Kotouc. Courtesy of ARKIVE
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/39380/0
http://www.elasmo-research.org/education/ecology/estuaries-lemon.htm
Tricas, Timothy C., Kevin Deacon, Peter Last, John E. McCosker, Terence I. Walker, Leighton Taylr. A Guide to Sharks & Rays. San Francisco: Fog City Press, 2002. Print
http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/shark_lemon

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