All About the Zebra Shark
Scientists know the zebra shark as Stegostoma fasciatrum (sometimes Stegostoma varium). This shark is relatively unique in that it changes color from the time it is young until full maturation; therefore, some may refer to this shark as the leopard shark. Despite the popularity of these sharks, they tend to be very hard to please and therefore require almost ideal tank situations for survival. Throughout this article we will examine all you need to know about the zebra shark.
First it is extremely important to note that these sharks do not make great pets. Expert care is highly recommended and therefore, they should only be found in aquarium tanks and the like. One reason for this expert-specific requirement is that these sharks require a tank that is at least one hundred gallons. This shark variety is not recommended for aquariums with reefs and is hard to please in terms of tank environment and surroundings.
Another reason these sharks are not suitable as a pet falls back on their natural diet and behavioral tendencies. Being native to the Indo-Pacific region, these wild sharks are carnivores and extremely aggressive in behavior. Experts feeding this shark should be aware that they are relatively picky and sometimes hard to please. Sometimes scallops, flesh of marine fish, and shrimp may be accepted, but then again the shark may go for weeks before finally accepting food and starting to eat regularly.
Now that we have examined in detail the necessity of having this shark only cared for by experts or left in the wild, we will delve into the physical characteristics. Believe it or not, the zebra shark actually loses its stripes as it ages. While still young, the sharks have a dark body (typically brown) with stripes that are yellow in color. However, once they mature they lose the stripes and have a light gray or tan colored body with dark spots throughout. Furthermore, they have ridges and a tail that are typically as long as the body itself. Moreover, these sharks can get up to a little over eight feet long, but there is actually a report of one being twelve feet long.
These sharks are nocturnal; therefore they sleep during the day, and remain highly active at night. During the nighttime they tend to search for food. In terms of human interaction, they are harmless to humans and therefore divers love these sharks, especially ones that are equipped with cameras. They may approach divers; however most will flee, especially if there is a large group of divers around. Anyone wishing to scuba dive near these sharks should look in the Pacific Ocean somewhere between Australia and Japan. These sharks tend to be found in waters as deep as around two hundred feet and in tropical areas that are sandy or contain coral. It is important to note that these sharks are unlikely to be attacked and killed by other fish; therefore, humans tend to be their biggest enemy. Although they are not considered an endangered species, they are carried inshore frequently and therefore sometime in the future they could be at risk.
In conclusion, the zebra shark is a wild species that should be left wild unless being held captive by an expert; therefore, those in captivity are frequently found at your local aquarium. When diving these sharks have a possibility to allow you to approach them if you are not surrounded by several other divers; however, it is far more likely that they will flee. All in all, these sharks are unique in their change of appearance from their youth until maturation in which they lose their stripes.