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Shark Gallery 5 - Unique Sharks


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Leopard Shark

Leopard Shark

Triakis semifasciata

Triakidae: Houndsharks

Leopard Shark

Photo Copyright K. Cathleen Lengyel 2000

The Leopard Shark was once very abundant along the Pacific Coast from Oregon, Baja California USA to Mexico. Now due to intense sport and commercial fishing this beautiful predator is becoming uncommon in places. They have long bodies covered with black spots and saddle shaped markings. Although most aspects of the Leopard are those typical of modern sharks, it varies in the fact it does not need to swim in order to breathe. They are a sluggish swimmer.

They are considered to be harmless and are usually seen during the day year round. Leopards can reach up to 6 feet in length. Leopards also travel in schools which leads to their being caught in large numbers by those fishing them. Their mouths contain small pointed teeth which allows them to capture and eat a wide variety of food including fish, fish eggs, shrimp, crabs and clams. Leopards migrate seasonally from inner bays to the outer coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest. Divers can see them above the sandy or muddy bottoms of bay areas of the outer coast.

Interesting fact... Males are smaller than females as they reach maturity, but eventually grow to become slightly larger. Females produce up to 24 pups each spring.

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Orectolobus ornatus - Ornate
Eurcrossorhinus dasypogon - Tasselled

Orectolobidae: Wobbegongs

Photo Courtesy of: Dave's Shark Photos (No longer online)

The Ornate Wobbegong (like that pictured) has a wide flattened body shape. It is found in the Western Pacific Ocean year-round. It is considered to be dangerous especially if provoked or stepped on.

Divers must use caution because the Wobbegong is a master at camouflaging itself on the sea floor. Numerous provoked and unprovoked attacks have occurred and been documented.

The ornate has no dermal lobes or tassels on the lower chin or jaw. It is a large shark, up to 10 feet in length and prefers to be resting on rocky reefs in temperate waters during
the day. At night they search the reefs for the fishes and invertebrates on which it preys. Wobbegongs share features of other shark species like the nurse, blind, bamboo, and collared carpet sharks.

Tasseled Wobbegongs have many fine dermal lobes on the upper jaw that look like fleshy tassels which hang over the mouth. It's mouth contains many sharp narrow teeth. During the day they prefer to rest in caves in the warm temperate water of the Western Pacific Ocean. It can reach lengths around 10-13 feet. Just as with the Ornate, the Tasseled is considered dangerous if provoked, captured or disturbed.

Interesting fact... Most Wobbegong attacks are provoked by a diver either pulling the Wobbegong's tail or by accidentally stepping on it.

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Graphic of a shark swimming in coral.

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