LEMON SHARK

Negaprion brevirostris
Family: Carcharhinidae

Description: Pale yellow-brown coloration. Big, stocky and short-nosed. First and second dorsal fin of similar size. Flattened head and smooth cusped teeth.

Distribution and Habitat: Occurs in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate waters of the western Atlantic from Virginia (United States) to Brazil, northeast Atlantic (west Africa) and east Pacific (Mexico to Ecuador). Adult lemon sharks are demersal and pelagic in shallow inshore waters around coral reefs and mangrove fringes. Juveniles are known to remain in nurseries along shallow beaches, seagrass flats, piers, docks and around mangroves for years for ease of foraging and protection against predation. Their home range increases with size and they tend to venture into deeper waters as they grow larger. Their depth range has been observed as 0-92 meters.

Size: max size of 340 cm total length. Size at birth between 60-65 cm total length.

Reproduction: Placentotrophic viviparous with litter sizes of 4-17 pups. Gestation period of 10-12 months on an annual cycle. Sexual maturity is reached around 224 cm total length (11.6 years) for males and 239 cm total length (12.7 years) for females.

Life span: Estimated maximum of 37 years.

Diet: Feeds on fishes, crustaceans and mollusks.

Status: near Threatened

Human pressure: Caught as both as a target and bycatch in commercial and artisanal fisheries on longline and gillnet gear types. Large size and slow life history make its population susceptible to fishing. Mangrove removal adds habitat destruction to the threats facing lemon sharks, as mangrove nurseries are a key habitat for juvenile lemon sharks.

LEMON SHARK