The lemon shark is a unique predator with incredible skin color. Her color really has a lemon tint, so she can easily go unnoticed on the seabed. The yellow-toothed shark can also be found under other names: Panamanian sharp-toothed, short-snouted sharp-toothed. The shark is considered to be a fairly large, though not very aggressive marine predator. It can be easily observed by divers and researchers. If you do not make sudden movements and do not draw attention to yourself, the shark will never harm a person.
Origin of the species and description
The lemon shark is a representative of the class of cartilaginous fish, classified in the order carchariformes, the family gray sharks, the genus sharp-toothed sharks, the species lemon sharks.
The ancient ancestors of modern sharks were much smaller than them. This is evidenced by the found fossils of teeth. Scientists and researchers claim that the body length of this predatory individual was approximately 30-50 centimeters. This ancient find is about 400 million years old. Such finds are very rare, since these predators belong to cartilaginous fish, therefore, their skeleton is formed not from bone tissue, but from cartilaginous tissue, which decays rather quickly.
Video: Lemon shark
During the existence of this species, sharks were distributed almost everywhere, since the water column covered most of the Earth. The ancient ancestors of modern predators had a very simple body structure, which allowed them to feel more comfortable. With the onset of the Carboniferous period, the diversity of shark species became simply enormous. It was this period that ichthyologists called the golden age of sharks. In this period, individuals with a conveyor mechanism for changing teeth appeared. This feature of the structure of the oral apparatus of sharks, which consists in a permanent, continuous change of teeth.
Then begins the era of the appearance of giant predators – megalodons. Their length could exceed three dozen meters. However, this species completely disappeared from the face of the earth about 1.5 million years ago. About 245 million years ago, a global change in climatic conditions began, a huge number of active volcanoes appeared. These factors caused the extinction of a large number of marine inhabitants. Those of the few shark species that were lucky enough to survive are the direct ancestors of modern sharks.
Appearance and features
The lemon shark stands out from all other shark species for its size and incredible strength. In addition, they are distinguished by a very unusual, uncharacteristic color for marine predators. The back area can be varied: from pale yellow, sandy, to pink. The abdominal area can be dirty white or just white.
The body length of one adult reaches 3-4 meters, weight exceeds 1.5 tons. Predators have very powerful and strong teeth that do not leave the victim a single chance of salvation. The teeth of the upper jaw are triangular in shape, slightly oblique, with notches on the lateral surface. The teeth of the lower jaw are awl-shaped.
Interesting fact: The largest representative of this species is considered a predator, whose size is 3.43 meters in length and about 184 kilograms.
Around these predatory giants there is always a huge accumulation of small reef fish, the main source of food for which are parasitic insects from the skin of sharks. Features of a particular species are the absence of a spiracle and the presence of five pairs of gill slits. In the back area, they have two fins of the same shape and size.
The muzzle of sharks is small, round, somewhat flattened and shortened. A distinctive feature is the huge eyes. However, they are a weak guide as organs of vision. Sharks rely mainly on supersensitive receptors, which are located on the surface of the skin of the head of the body.
They are also called the ampullae of Lorenzia. They capture the slightest electrical impulses that exude fish and mammals living in the water. By means of such receptors, sharks accurately determine the type of prey, body size, distance and trajectory of movement.
Where does the lemon shark live?
Lemon sharks are quite adaptable to changing environmental conditions. Many studies have shown that they can live in waters with varying degrees of salinity, and also feel great in aquariums.
Geographical regions of habitat of marine predators:
- Gulf of Mexico;
- western Atlantic
This species of marine predators prefers to settle near coastal heights, sea cliffs, coral reefs, preferring a stone or sandy bottom. Often lemon predators can be observed in bays, near the mouths of small rivers.
Bloodthirsty sea hunters feel very comfortable at a depth of up to 80-90 meters. This is due to the greatest richness of the forage base and warm waters. However, there are individuals that swim to a depth of 300-400 meters.
Lemon sharks are not prone to long-distance migrations. They are generally considered sedentary predators, since most of the time they prefer to simply lie motionless on the bottom, or hide in coral reefs, waiting for a suitable prey for dinner and assessing the situation around.
Now you know where the lemon shark lives. Let's see what it eats.
What does the lemon shark eat?
Lemon sharks are predators especially large size. The main food source of this species is other inhabitants of the deep sea.
What can serve as a food base:
- sharks, which are much smaller than sharp-toothed sharks: dark-finned, gray;
- stingrays (a favorite treat)
- fur seals;
Lemon predators they may well attack representatives of their own species, in connection with which young individuals are often grouped, which increases their chances of survival. The mouth cavity of the fish is densely dotted with sharp teeth. Sea hunters use the lower jaw exclusively for capturing and fixing the prey, and the upper jaw for dismembering the prey into parts.
The lemon shark never pursues its potential prey. She just lays down in a certain place and freezes. Having caught the approach of a potential dinner, the shark waits for the prey to come as close as possible. When she is at the closest possible distance, she makes a lightning attack and captures her prey.
There have been no recorded cases of a fatal attack on a person by a short-nosed sharp-toothed shark. However, when meeting take off, you must be extremely careful. Sharp movements are perceived by predators as a signal for a lightning attack. Lemon sharks have been scientifically proven to be attracted to the sound of ship propellers.
Sharks hunt mainly at night. 80% of the predator's diet is made up of bony fish. The rest can be molluscs, crustaceans, and other representatives of marine odds and fauna. Juvenile predatory fish that have not reached adult size feed on small fish. As it grows and increases in volume, the shark's diet is replaced by a larger and more colorful one.
Character and lifestyle features
Lemon sharks are considered nocturnal, as they hunt mainly at night. They feel most comfortable within the sea reefs, waterways, etc. Young individuals tend to gather in flocks to join forces to resist the attacks of older individuals, and also hunt as part of a group. However, the risk of infection by parasites increases in the shark community.
This species of marine predators belongs to nocturnal fish. They prefer to stay near the coast at a depth of no more than 80-90 meters. Lemon sharks are very agile marine life, despite their large size. They are quite comfortable both in the open ocean at great depths and in shallow water near the coast. During the day they mostly rest, preferring to spend time in each other's company, near coral reefs or sea cliffs.
Interesting fact: It has been scientifically proven that these representatives of marine flora and fauna have amazing abilities. In one of the aquariums, they figured out that in order to get another portion of fresh meat, you need to press the button located at the bottom.
They are able to store certain sounds in memory for several months. Sharks use several signals to communicate with each other. They are mainly used as a warning to their relatives about the approaching danger. In general, the nature of lemon sharks is described by ichthyologists as non-aggressive. Most often, a shark is unlikely to attack for no apparent reason, or if nothing threatens it.
Social structure and reproduction
The mating season of the predator begins at the end of spring or with the onset of the summer period. Lemon sharks are viviparous fish. They give birth to small sharks near the Bahamas. Not far from the coast, sharks form so-called nurseries – small depressions in which several females, and possibly several dozen, give birth to their cubs at once.
Subsequently, these nurseries will be their home for the first few years of life. Newborns grow quite slowly. For a whole year of life, they grow only 10-20 centimeters. Grown up and strengthened sharks swim out of their shelters into deeper waters and lead an independent lifestyle.
Adult females who have reached puberty bring offspring once every two years. At one time, one female gives birth to 3 to 14 small sharks. The number of cubs depends on the size and body weight of the female.
Female individuals reach sexual maturity at about 10-11 years. The average life expectancy of predators in natural conditions is 30-33 years, while living in captivity in nurseries and aquariums, it decreases by 5-7 years.
Natural enemies of lemon sharks
The lemon shark is one of the fastest, strongest, and most dangerous predators. Thanks to her natural strength and dexterity, she has practically no enemies in natural conditions. The exception is a person and his activities, as well as parasites that live in the body of a shark, practically eating it from the inside. If the number of parasites increases, they can easily provoke the death of such a dexterous and dangerous predator.
There have been several cases of humans being bitten by lemon sharks. However, none of them resulted in death. In the course of the research, it was proved that the shark does not consider humans as prey and potential prey.
Marine predators, on the contrary, suffer from human activity themselves. People prey on lemon predators because of their high cost of all components. Fish fins are incredibly highly valued on the black market. Shark body derivatives are widely used for the production of medicines, as well as decorative cosmetics. It is also widely known for the high strength of shark skin. The meat of these marine creatures is considered a great delicacy.
In the United States of America, lemon sharks are used as objects for experiments. They are used to test the effects of drugs and drugs.
Population and species status
Today, the lemon shark has the status of an endangered species. Most lemon sharks are concentrated in the expanses of the Atlantic Ocean. The number of individuals is somewhat less in the Pacific region.
To date, there are no special programs that would be aimed at protecting or increasing the number of individuals of this species. According to statistics, the number of lemon sharks is declining every year. It's not just about poaching. Often the cause of the death of huge predators is the tide, which throws them ashore. It is known that the coastal zone is considered a favorite habitat for lemon predators, especially if there are coral reefs on its territory. Also, many individuals die as a result of pollution of the region of their habitat with garbage and various kinds of waste.
The low reproductive function also contributes to the reduction in numbers. Adult females can give birth only when they are 13-15 years old, and give birth to cubs every two years. Another reason for the decline in the number of lemon sharks is that younger smaller individuals can become the object of their own relatives. It is for this reason that the young form groups to increase their chances of survival.
Lemon Shark Conservation
This species of marine predators is partly protected by the International Plan of the United Nations. The government does not regulate the number of lemon sharks, and there are no penalties for catching and killing sea bloodthirsty predators.
In the regions where predators live, environmentalists and volunteer organizations are working everywhere to prevent pollution of sea waters. For teenagers and adults, statistics are given that indicate a regular decline in the number of lemon sharks, as well as many other representatives of marine life.
The lemon shark is a serious and very dangerous predator, an encounter with which can have sad consequences. Human activity and other factors are causing the disappearance of many species of amazing representatives of marine flora and fauna.