Lemon sharks Negaprion brevirostris get their name from their light brown to yellowish skin, which helps them blend in with the sandy ocean bottoms on which they often live.
Lemon sharks have a blunt snout, flattened head and stocky body. Their two dorsal fins are about the same size. They have a yellowish-brown back and a lighter underside. These sharks grow to a maximum length of about 11 feet and weight of over 400 pounds.
Habitat and Distribution:
Lemon sharks are found in the Atlantic Ocean from New Jersey to Brazil, and the Gulf of Mexico, Bahamas and Caribbean. They are found in the Pacific Ocean from southern Baja California, Mexico and the Gulf of California to Ecuador.
Young sharks stay within shallow waters, while adults may migrate offshore.
Lemon sharks are thought to have excellent eyesight, due to a horizontal band (termed a "visual streak") in their retina that has cones that can allow the shark to see details and color, which is an advantage in spotting prey, potential mates and potential competitors. You can read more about the eyesight of lemon sharks, and other sharks, here.
The lemon shark is listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List. These sharks may be caught commercially for their meat, skin (which is turned into leather), liver (for the oil) and fins. They are also fished recreationally, used as research subjects (read more about lemon shark research bu Samuel "Doc" Gruber here). They also may be caught for display in aquariums.
Another threat to these sharks is coastal development, which may decrease the availability and suitability of nursery grounds for young.
References and Further Information:
- Bailly, N. 2011. Negaprion brevirostris (Poey, 1868). In: Nicolas Bailly (2011). FishBase. Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=105800 on July 31, 2012.
- FishBase. Negaprion brevirostris. Accessed July 31, 2012.
- Florida Museum of Natural History. 2011. International Shark Attack File. Accessed July 31, 2012.
- Morgan, A. Lemon Shark Florida Museum of Natural History Icthyology Department. Accessed July 31, 2012.
- Sundström, L.F. 2009. Negaprion brevirostris. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. , Accessed July 31, 2012.