Lemon Shark (Negaprion brevirostris) has a yellow/brown
or olive gray coloration on the dorsal surface and a lighter
yellowish color on the undersides. This is how they got ther
name. There are no conspicuous markings.
The lemon shark is a large stocky, blunt nosed shark with
two dorsal fins of similar size. The first dorsal fin is low
and positioned posterior to the pectoral fins, the second
dorsal is of similar shape and size and positioned anterior
to the origin of the anal fin. The pelvic fin has weakly concave
rear margins and the pectoral fin outer margin is slightly
convex and both fins are weakly falcate. The snout is round
and shorter than the width of the mouth. There is no mid-dorsal
ridge present on this species.
Lemon sharks are one of the larger species of sharks, commonly
obtaining lengths between 95-120 inches (240-300 cm). and
have a growth rate of .21 inches/year (.54 cm/year). The maximum
length that can be reached by this species is between 125-135
inches (318-343 cm). Females and males reach sexual maturity
around 6-7 years of age and at 95 inches (240 cm) and 88 inches
(224 cm) respectively. Pups are between 24-26 inches (60-65
cm) at birth.
This species inhabits coastal inshore waters from New Jersey
(US) to Southern Brazil, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean in the
northwestern Atlantic Ocean and along Senegal and the Ivory
Coast of Africa in the eastern Atlantic. There is some evidence
that two separate populations exist within the western Atlantic
Ocean; one in the Caribbean and one in the Gulf of Mexico.
In the North Pacific the lemon shark ranges from the Gulf
of California and Baja California south to Ecuador.
The lemon shark is commonly found in subtropical shallow
water to depths of 300 feet (90 m) and inhabits coral reefs,
mangroves, enclosed bays, sounds and river mouths. However,
this species will not penetrate deep into freshwater systems.
Lemon sharks can be found in oceanic water during migration
but tend to stay along the continental and insular shelves.
The lemon shark is also known to form loose aggregations based
on size and sex and have been seen congregating near docks
and fishing piers during the night, returning to deep water
during the day.