Leopard Shark, Triakis semifasciata

The Leopard Shark (Triakis semifasciata) is a species of hound shark found in the coastal waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean, along the coast of North America from Oregon to Baja California. Its habitat is rocky areas, rocky reefs,
kelp beds, sandy areas and under piers. Tagging has revealed that stock is mostly resident in San Francisco Bay. However, about 10 percent of the population migrate further out into the ocean seasonally. They swim mainly at depths of 10 to 250 feet. They prefer cold rather than warm water. They can be in large shoals, but remain solitary when breeding.

The Leopard Shark can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh up to 71 pounds. It has a long, slender body and head. The unique markings that give this fish its common name provide camouflage against the dappled ocean floor. These are bottom feeders and eat worms, mollusks, crustaceans, octopuses, and small fish. The reproduction is aplacental viviparity (no yolk-sack placenta). Four to 29 pups are gestated within the body of the female and are born live after about 10 to 12 months.

Leopard Sharks hunt in groups, sometimes with smooth-hound sharks. They are sought after by sport fishermen in the
San Francisco Bay Area and in Monterey Bay for its tender, flavorful flesh. There is some concern over these sharks being fished, as they reproduce slowly.

Image Caption: Leopard Shark at Monterey Bay Aquarium. Credit: Tewy/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)