Zebra Shark | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Zebra Shark | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Zebra Shark Overview

Appearance

The Zebra Shark (Stegostoma fasciatum) is a distinctive and striking marine species. It features a sleek, elongated body with a cylindrical shape. Its skin is adorned with bold, dark brown stripes that resemble a zebra's pattern. These stripes cover the entire length of its body, including its tail.

Origins And Evolution

The Zebra Shark (Stegostoma fasciatum) has origins dating back to prehistoric times, with its evolutionary history stretching over millions of years. It belongs to the carpet shark family and is believed to have evolved from ancient shark ancestors during the Cretaceous period. Its distinctive appearance with zebra-like stripes is the result of gradual adaptations to its environment.

Over time, these sharks have thrived in the warm, tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region, including the western Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. They have maintained their unique appearance and foraging behavior, which includes hunting for small fish and invertebrates on the ocean floor.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Zebra Sharks (Stegostoma fasciatum) are nocturnal predators, typically resting on sandy seabeds during the day and becoming active at night. They have a relatively slow and methodical swimming style.

These sharks are known for their scavenging behavior, using their strong jaws and sharp teeth to crush and feed on crustaceans, mollusks, and small fish. Sharks are generally solitary, although they may be found in small groups occasionally.

Zebra Shark Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Chondrichthyes (Cartilaginous fishes)
  • Order: Orectolobiformes
  • Family: Stegostomatidae
  • Genus: Stegostoma
  • Species: S. fasciatum

Zebra Shark Locations

  • Indo-Pacific region
  • Western Pacific Ocean
  • Indian Ocean
  • Red Sea
  • Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
  • Southeast Asia
  • Eastern Africa
  • Northwestern Australia
  • Philippines
  • Thailand

Fast Facts

  • Name: Zebra Shark
  • Scientific Name: Stegostoma fasciatum
  • Habitat: Coral reefs
  • Diet: Bottom feeder
  • Physical Features: Striped pattern
  • Nocturnal: No
  • Solitary: Mostly solitary
  • Unique Order: Orectolobiformes
  • Lifespan: 25-30 years
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable
  • Fun Facts: Long tail, harmless

Physical Characteristics

  • Color: Striped pattern
  • Skin Type: Smooth scales
  • Top Speed: Moderate swimmer
  • Lifespan: 25-30 years
  • Weight: Medium-sized
  • Length: Long Body
  • Age of Sexual Maturity: 5-10 years
  • Age of Weaning: N/A

Zebra Shark FAQs

Q: Why are they called Zebra Sharks?

They are named for the zebra-like stripes that young Zebra Sharks have. As they mature, their stripes develop into a different pattern.

Q: Are Zebra Sharks nocturnal or diurnal?

Zebra Sharks are primarily nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night.

Q: Do Zebra Sharks have any predators?

Their main predators are larger sharks, such as tiger sharks and bull sharks.

Q: How long can a Zebra Shark live?

They have a relatively long lifespan and can live up to 25 to 30 years in the wild.

Q: What is their conservation status?

They are classified as "Near Threatened" due to declining populations in some regions.

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