Wildlife Fact Sheets

Lemon Shark

Lemon Shark

Lemon Shark

Negaprion brevirostris

  • Life Span
    Up to about 30 years
  • Habitat
    Along sandy bottoms in inshore habitats like mangroves and reefs
  • Range
    Tropical and subtropical zones in the Atlantic and Pacific
  • Preferred Food
    Bony fish, crustaceans, rays, cephalopods and even sea birds


When life gives you a lemon shark…celebrate! We get our name from our yellow-ish hue that allows us to blend into the ocean’s sandy bottom. We spend a lot of time in the sand looking for our prey, including fish, rays and crustaceans. We have very few predators because of our large size, but sometimes large lemon sharks will eat baby lemon sharks (but hey, we’re not the only sharks to sometimes exhibit cannibalism! Looking at you, mako sharks and tiger sharks).

Many of us, especially juveniles, like to spend time in mangrove habitats. Mangroves have thick roots, which are perfect for hiding from predators and are also home to lots of prey. However, mangroves are often threatened by development and pollution, which in turn affects us. Protecting mangroves and coral reefs, one of our other favorite habitats, will help not only us lemon sharks, but the countless other species that depending on a healthy reef ecosystem.

Did You Know?

I’m not a particularly aggressive shark, so I’m not considered much of a threat to people in the water. However, my preferred habitat, like shallow coral reefs, can be in areas where people like to visit, so you should always keep a careful distance to make sure I don’t feel threatened (this is the case with all sharks!). The ocean is my home, so please be respectful.

Status and Conservation

Although people often picture sharks as solitary creatures, I’m pretty social! In fact, I prefer to be in groups of other lemon sharks about my size. In fact, a study through the Bimini Biological Field Station found that juvenile lemon sharks can learn from each other. Also, swimming in groups could also help protect us from predators. Unlike other sharks, we do pretty well in captivity, meaning scientists can better study our behavior and health.

Our populations are in better shape than some shark species, but we still are considered near threatened. We are targeted in some commercial and recreational fisheries around the world and are sometimes caught as bycatch in other fisheries. Like many sharks, we are also harvested for our fins and meat.

Fast Facts

  • Lemon sharks can grow up to 10 feet long
  • Lemon sharks can dive up to 1,300 feet looking for prey


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