To see photographs of the Zebra Shark (Stegostoma fasciatum)
Zebra Shark (Stegostoma fasciatum)
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Taxonomic name: Stegostoma fasciatum
The very distinctive Zebra Shark (Stegostoma fasciatum) cannot be confused
with any other animal. It has a tail second in proportional length only
to the Thresher Shark. Hard ridges run down the back and flanks. The head
is short and rounded with small eyes and a mouth close to the tip of the
snout. The dark brown to black juveniles with yellowish white bars and
spots gives this shark its common name. As it grows to adulthood the bars
are replaced by a mosaic of dark brown spots on a yellowish to dark brown
base colour; this coloration gives rise to its other common name, Leopard
The large dark purplish, black or brown egg cases of the Zebra Shark
are 17 cm long and festooned with golden hair-like tufts that catch on
the reef. The hatchlings, 20 cm long, grow to at least 2.5 m. This docile
shark can be approached very closely. It is common to see remoras clinging
to its belly and sides or small disc-shaped parasites around its mouth.Box:
Like all bottom-dwelling sharks, Zebra Sharks have the ability to pump
water over their gills, either through their mouth or through the large
spiracle behind each eye. They can be found resting in current-prone areas
during the day facing the flow to make breathing a less stressful chore.
Even though a diver will only see four gill openings, there are, in fact,
five gills, with two sharing the one opening.