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 Lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris)

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Lemon shark
© Doug Perrine / SeaPics
 Range Map

Earth Map


Phylum: Vertebates (Chordata)

Class: Carlilagenous Fishes (Chondrichthyes)
  Order: Ground sharks (Carcharhiniformes)
    Family: Requiem sharks (Carcharhinidae)
      Genus: Negaprion (Negaprion)


Scientific: Negaprion brevirostris
German: Zitronenhai
English: Lemon shark
French: Requin citron
Spanish: Tiburón galano


A short-nosed, stocky shark with big eyes. Snout is wider than long. Both dorsal fins are of equal size. Origin of first dorsal fin over free rear ends of pectoral fins.


Yellow-brownish, with white ventral surface.


Western Atlantic: New Jersey to southern Brazil, Gulf of Mexico, Bahamas and Caribbean. Eastern Atlantic: Senegal to Ivory Coast. Eastern Pacific: southern Baja California to Equador. Most common in the Caribbean.


Very common in shore areas, down to a depth of at least 90 m. Nocturnal. Can lay motionless on the bottom. Pups stay in shallow water for several years (to be protected from bigger sharks), can withstand lower and higher salinities, and can even penetrate into fresh water. Migration, size and sex segregation is known.


Fishes. Juveniles feed on fishes that live primarily in and around mangroves, although about 20% of the diet is composed of invertebrates. Adult lemon sharks feed on stingrays and eagle rays too, and even small sharks and sea birds.


Average size between 200 cm and 250 cm, maximum total length about 320 cm.


Viviparous, with yolksac-placenta (giving birth to live young). Gestation period lasts about 12 months. Females only give birth every second year. 8 to 12 pups per litter. Size at birth between 60 cm to 70 cm. Pups show a very slow growth and grow only about 10 cm to 15 cm in their first year of live. Born in shallow waters (nursery grounds). Sexual maturity is reached at 12 to 15 years of age.

 Similar Species

Based on their snout, lemon sharks look like the Bull shark that has a second dorsal fin that is much smaller than the first one. Based on dorsal fins, the Grey nurse shark looks similar too, but they possess needle-like teeth that can be seen easily since they swim with a very open mouth.


Status in the IUCN Red List(1994):

Main criterion: > LR/nt (Low Risk/Near Threatened (1994))
Sub criterion:
Trend: Unknown

 Danger to Humans

Potentially dangerous.

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