Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays)
Subclass: elasmobranchii (No swim bladders, five to seven pairs of gill clefts opening individually to the exterior, rigid dorsal fins, and small placid scales).
Order: Carcharhiniformes (Ground sharks)
Family: Triakidae (Houndsharks are distinguished by possessing two large spineless dorsal fins, an anal fin, and oval eyes with nictitating eyelids. They are small to medium in size, ranging from 37 centimetres (15 in) to 220 centimetres (7.2 ft).

Genus/species: Triakis semifasciata

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Grey to bronze-grey upper body with dark saddles and dots and a light ventral (bottom) surface. Short, broadly rounded snout. First dorsal fin is moderately large and its origin is over the pectoral fins inner margins. Second dorsal fin is nearly as large as the first one. Anal fin much smaller than the second dorsal fin. Pectoral fins broadly triangular. Max length : 198 cm (78 in).

Leopard Shark 2959038532_163d96da28_o

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Common from Oregon state to Baja California,Mexico. Prefers sandy and rock-strewn substrate near rocky reefs. Most commonly in enclosed muddy bays, including estuaries and lagoons, typically at less than 3.7 m or 13 ft depth, but ranges to 91m or 300 ft.


DIET IN WILD: Fishes (especially northern midshipman, sanddab, shiner perch, bat rays and smoothhounds), siphons of clams, crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp. Feeds heavily on fish eggs (herring, jacksmelt and topsmelt) attached to rocks and plants.

 The leopard shark captures prey by expanding its buccal cavity to create a suction force, which is facilitated by its labial cartilages swinging forward to form the mouth into a tube. Simultaneously, the shark protrudes its jaws forward to grip the prey between its teeth.

REPRODUCTION: Ovoviviparous. Litters 4–29. Young average 21 cm or 8 in at birth.

PREDATORS: Can live to at least 30 years. These good eating sharks are a very popular as a sport “fish.” Also preyed upon by other sharks.

Leopard Shark 8415453774_b665c7a08e_o

IUCN Least Concern

REMARKS: In San Francisco Bay, leopard sharks tend to remain in the Bay throughout the year, with some emigration during fall and winter. Not dangerous.

Fossils of leopard sharks have been discovered in deposits dated to more than 1,000,000 years old in southern California.


Peterson Field Guides, Pacific Coast Fishes, Eschmeyer and Hearld 1983

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Ferry-Graham, L.A. (1998). “Effects of prey size and mobility on prey-capture kinematics in leopard sharks Triakis semifasciata” (PDF). Journal of Experimental Biology. 201 (16): 2433–2444. PMID 9679105.

Probably More Than You Want To Know About The Fishes Of The Pacific Coast, Milton Love 1996 Really Big Press p 60-61