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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:

  • Ocean Voyager

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in the shallow waters of the Indian Ocean and West Pacific from South Africa to the Red Sea, from Pakistan, India and Southeast Asia to China, Indonesia and the Philippines and from Australia and New Caledonia to Southern Japan. Found on and adjacent to coral reefs, usually in areas with sandy seafloor.

Physical Characteristics

  • Coloration of adults is tan with dark spots.
  • Juvenile is dark with yellowish bars, lending to the name, “zebra shark.”
  • Body is cylindrical and thick, with prominent ridges along the flanks. Head is broad and conical with a very rounded snout and fleshy barbels at the corners of the mouth. Upper lobe of the caudal fin is greatly elongated.
  • Maximum length of 12 feet (3.65 m); the long tail fin may account for about half of the total body length.
  • Spiracles located behind the eyes allow this shark to rest motionless on the bottom and still circulate water over its gills.

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists primarily of benthic invertebrates such as snails, shrimp, crabs and sea urchins, as well as small fishes.
  • Can fit into small crevices and holes in the reef as it searches for food.

Reproduction / Growth

  • Oviparous, or egg-laying, species; female lays large, dark brown or purplish black egg cases.
  • Newly hatched young is 8 to 10 inches (20-26 cm).
  • Juvenile will begin feeding on its own in the protected reef shallows.

Conservation Status

  • “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. 

Additional Information

  • Nocturnal; rests on the ocean bottom during the day.
  • A slow moving shark, considered harmless to humans.

Sources

www.waquarium.org
www.redlist.org
www.mbayaq.org
www.fishbase.org