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What is a Lemon Shark?

The Lemon Shark, named for its yellowish skin, is a fascinating marine predator found in subtropical waters. Noted for its keen senses and social behavior, this shark plays a vital role in ocean ecosystems. Intrigued by these creatures' unique adaptations? Discover how the Lemon Shark distinguishes itself in the vast blue sea. What secrets does it hold? Join us to uncover more.
Kasey James
Kasey James

A lemon shark is a light brown, sandy-colored shark that is found mostly in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The lemon shark is medium to large in size and is not usually a threat to people, but can be a danger to other ocean animals. Its scientific name is Negaprion Brevirostris, and it comes from the family Carcharhinidae.

The Carcharhinidae family also includes the blue, tiger and milk sharks. This family has several distinct characteristics. Animals in it have round eyes, and their pectoral fins are located behind the gill slits. Most of these sharks, including the lemon shark, are viviparous. This means they give birth to live young instead of lay eggs.

Lemon sharks occasionally eat sea birds.
Lemon sharks occasionally eat sea birds.

Lemon sharks live in the Caribbean Sea, but can also be found on the eastern and western sides of the Atlantic Ocean. This shark can be spotted in the Pacific Ocean near Southern California in the US down to Ecuador in South America. They tend to live in shallow waters near the shore. They mostly stay in depths around 300 feet (91 meters).

This type of shark has a diet of squid, fish and crustaceans most of the time. Occasionally, they will eat large sea birds and prey on other smaller sharks. Even though they are not the most aggressive sharks, they can be aggressive when hunting after prey.

These sharks can grow to be very large. The average length of a lemon shark is around 8 to 9 feet (2.5 to 3 meters). Some of the largest lemon sharks have measured around 11 feet (3.4 meters). These shark grow by about 1.5 feet (0.5 meters) a year.

The lemon shark has a few features that separate it from other sharks. Its unusual brown-colored skin allows it to have the ability to camouflage itself in the sand. Lemon sharks do like to hover over the sand, but they can dive down as far as 1,300 feet (396 meters). They are also unique because they usually have a crowd of small reef fish around them that pick off the parasites from their skin.

Divers enjoy swimming with the lemon shark because it is not a threat to humans. Generally, these sharks will swim away if a human gets too close. Since they do not usually dive too far, it is easy to investigate them while scuba diving. The best places to dive with lemon sharks are the Bahamas, Florida, Mexico and Costa Rica.

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    • Lemon sharks occasionally eat sea birds.
      By: Stefan Krasowski
      Lemon sharks occasionally eat sea birds.