Lemon Shark (Negaprion brevirostris)
Top 5 Must-Know Facts About the Lemon Shark: Amazing Insights Into an Incredible Species!
Lemon Sharks, (Negaprion brevirostris), are a species of large sharks that can be found in tropical and subtropical waters around the globe. These sharks are among the largest in the ocean, growing to between 8 – 11 feet long and weighing up to 200 lbs. Their bodies are yellowish in color with a dusky brown-toned snout, which gives them their namesake. They are powerful and agile predators, primarily feeding on a variety of fish and squid. Despite their fierce reputation, Lemon Sharks are quite docile and can be found swimming in shallow coral reefs and mangrove estuaries. They have also been observed forming large groups, which experts believe to be cooperative hunting strategies. Lemon Sharks are important to their local ecosystems and human industries, and understanding their behavior is key to the conservation of their populations.
Lemon Shark (Negaprion brevirostris)
The Lemon Shark (Negaprion brevirostris), also known as cub shark, is a large, coastal shark species that sports a distinctive yellow-brown coloring and reaches sexual maturity at a relatively young age. It is diet primarily consists of bony fish, crabs, squid and stingrays, but it also scavenges for dead animals when necessary. Lemon Sharks can be found in tropical and subtropical shallow waters between the latitudes of 64°N and 38°S, and can reach up to 11.5 ft. in length and up to 440 lbs. in weight.
This species has an archetypal shark-like appearance with a long, narrow snout and a large, powerful caudal fin. The coloration of the Lemon shark ranges from light grey-brown above to a lighter shade of beige or yellow underneath. As an adult, its fins have a white leading edge and are fringed with black. The top of the head and both sides of the snout is darker, almost black. The brownish hue of the Lemon Shark usually appears to be somewhat darker after they have departed from the water and their coloration faded, due to dehydration.
Like many other species of shark, Lemon Sharks reproduce through a process known as aplacental viviparity. Most lemon sharks reach sexual maturity at approximately 10 to 15 years of age, but may reach maturity before then in certain regions. The brain of the Lemon Shark has two sets of neurons with the amygdala, a brain region associated with aggression and many other functions of behavior, being more developed in reproductively mature sharks.
The Females typically give birth to between 1 and 10 pups after a gestation period of 10 to 12 months. The size at birth ranges from about 23 to 29 in. long, with pups born at the same time competing intensely with each other in the so-called “labour”. After birth, the young usually separate from the mother and live on their own, although they may still return to her for protection or sustenance.
The mating rituals of Lemon Sharks have yet to be thoroughly studied or documented, but they likely restrict their mating to specific times or areas. When ready to reproduce, males typically have a distinctively broader head and snout, which some researchers argue might be used to grasp onto females during the mating process.
Habits and Diet
The Lemon Shark is typically a solitary species, but can sometimes be found in large aggregations during feeding or to take shelter and suppress predation. During the day, most of these sharks tend to remain close to the bottom and at night, they swim throughout the water column. Juveniles usually stay closer to shore in shallow ocean beds or coastal estuaries where there is plenty of prey and protection.
Lemon Shark prefer a diet of bony fish, crabs, and squid which they catch with a short, quick burst of speed and precision. They may also eat stingrays and other marine animals. They often hunt upwelling of cool ocean water for their food, as well as artificial reefs, wrecks and baitballs.
Lemon Sharks may scavenge for dead animals, but are sensitive to lighting conditions and will mostly hunt at night.
The Lemon Shark exhibits a surprising degree of migratory behavior, and is known to travel up to hundreds of miles. The frequency with which these sharks migrate appears to be dependent on their locations and purpose for migrating.
Juveniles of the species tend to migrate to warmer, shallow waters near the coasts, while larger and older sharks may migrate long distances upwelling to feed in cooler ocean waters. Sharks may also migrate to specific areas seasonally to spawn or to mate.
Although Lemon Sharks are not currently listed as an endangered species, they are classified as Near Threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, due to the global reduction in their population caused by overfishing, habitat loss and bycatch.
The overfishing of Lemon Sharks is a major concern, as they are targeted for their meat, fins and liver oil, which are used for various commercial purposes. In addition, the destruction of the sharks’ habitats due to the destruction of coral reefs, climate change and pollution is also contributing to the decline in the Lemon Shark’s population.
Humans are also unintentionally killing Lemon Sharks through bycatch, which is when sharks become entangled in fishing nets and other marine debris. Scientists are studying ways to reduce the bycatch of sharks, such as using acoustic