Zebra sharks are large and easily distinct from other species of sharks. Often confused with leopard sharks, zebra sharks have similar tan coloring and black spots in adulthood. However, they enter the world a dark brownish color with gold stripes. While not as tooth-heavy as their rivals, zebra sharks have organs similar to whiskers on their snouts that help them find prey. This species has a particularly flexible body that allows them to fit into narrow crevices hiding small fish.
This type of shark is known for residing in shallow reef areas near tropical waters. They hunt at night for small fish and vertebrates, such as crabs, sea urchins, and snails. During the day, this species likes to remain near the ocean floor. They face the current to pump water over their gills, inhaling and exhaling while remaining perfectly still. Sometimes, the slow-swimming zebra shark adjusts its fins to float in the open water, making it appear as though it’s surfing.
Female zebra sharks are capable of laying up to four eggs in one sitting. Fine fibers keep these eggs latched to the seafloor for a little over six months. An infant zebra shark may be less than a foot long, but adults can grow to almost 12 feet!
Fun Facts About Zebra Sharks:
- Zebra sharks are commonly found near coral reefs with a depth of up to 203 feet.
- The average zebra shark length is about 8 feet, and they typically live for 28 years.
- Despite mostly residing in marine waters, zebra sharks have been known to swim in freshwater.
- Zebra sharks spend most of their day resting on the ocean floor.