Leopard Shark Quick Facts Scientific name: Triakis semifasciata • Leopard sharks belong to the subclass Elasmobranchii, which includes sharks and rays. These animals are commonly referred to as elasmobranchs. • These sharks have a distinctive color pattern, reminiscent of leopard spots. Markings are so varied that patterns can be used to identify individuals, akin to fingerprints. Adults can grow to 6 feet in length, but average size is 4–5 feet. • They live along the Pacific Coast of North America from Washington to Mazatlán, Mexico, including the Gulf of California. • Leopard sharks prefer nearshore, shallow waters less than 20 feet deep and tend to hang out near the bottom. They use a variety of habitats, including sandy and muddy bottoms, kelp forests, and rocky reefs. • Leopard sharks congregate at La Jolla Shores every summer due to a unique set of factors including calm, warm, shallow water and abundant food in the nearby La Jolla and Scripps Canyons, kelp forest, and rocky reefs. • They are an important part of our local ecology and valuable for La Jolla ecotourism. • La Jolla's leopard shark population is almost all females, most of which are pregnant. The gestation period is 10–11 months. Males can be found further up the coast. • Leopard sharks bear live young, 8–9 inches long at birth. Litter size depends on the size of the mother, but it's typically around 15–20 babies. Scientists have observed leopard shark litters of up to 37 pups. • The sharks' aggregating behavior makes them vulnerable to exploitation. Their chosen home base at La Jolla Shores lies within a protected area: the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve. • Leopard sharks are carnivorous; they forage for clams, worms, crabs, shrimp, squid, fishes, and fish eggs found on or near the ocean bottom. • Leopard sharks pose no danger to humans, unless provoked.
© Copyright 2018