Zebra Shark - Stegostoma fasciatum
The name Zebra Shark can be misleading to the look of this Shark as it looks more like a Leopard than a Zebra. However, the name Zebra Shark derives from the look of the Juvenile phase when they have stripes rather than spots.
We saw this huge Zebra Shark resting on the sandy bottom immediately upon descending into our dive. She let us get very close to her and we were able to spend some time taking close-up pictures of her.
They have very small eyes and despite their size, they have small mouth and teeth which they use to search the sandy bottom for shell molluscs and crustaceans as that's their main diet.
Zebra Sharks are oviparous, with females laying large egg capsules measuring 17 cm long, 8 cm wide, and 5 cm thick. The egg case is dark brown to purple in color, and has hair-like fibers along the sides that secure it to the substrate. The adhesive fibers emerge first from the female's vent; the female circles vertical structures such as reef outcroppings to entangle the fibers, so as to anchor the eggs. Females have been documented laying up to 46 eggs over a 112-day period.
The zebra shark is a species of carpet shark and the sole member of the family Stegostomatidae. It is found throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific, frequenting coral reefs and sandy flats to a depth of 62 m . Adult zebra sharks are distinctive in appearance, with five longitudinal ridges on a cylindrical body, a low caudal fin comprising nearly half the total length, and a pattern of dark spots on a pale background. Young zebra sharks under 50–90 cm long have a completely different.. more