How Big Is a Lemon Shark? Plus 10 Other Fascinating Facts!

What do you know about lemon sharks?

How big is a lemon shark? Where can you spot one? And is it dangerous?

To answer the first question: lemon sharks grow up to 3.4 m (11 ft) in length.

Below, we reveal anything and everything else, so keep on reading!

Lemon Shark: Length and Size

Lemon sharks, or Negaprion brevirostris, are medium-to-large sharks that typically grow between 2.5 to 3 meters (8 to 10 feet) and weigh up to 250 kg (551 lb).

Moreover, their pups are 50–60 cm long at birth, and they reach their sexual maturity at around 12 to 13 years of age when they are around 225–235 cm.

The viviparous lemon shark female gestates for up to a year before giving birth to about 3–17 pups, which may live up to 30 years in the best of cases.

lemon shark

Why Are They Called Lemon Sharks?

The only thing lemon sharks share with their namesake citrus fruit is the same yellowish color, which, albeit conceived by an unimaginative biologist, is where they got their name.

However, as with most shark species out there, the tint of their skin is darker on their dorsal (back) side since it has been exposed to sunlight over their evolutionary cycle.

Other than their plain skin color, which can also come in brownish or olive-gray, they have no other discernable markings, which ultimately helps them blend in with their surroundings and hunt for food in the coastal inshore bays and seas of the Caribbean.

They are typically found congregating in shallow water in mangroves, coral reefs, river mouths, and various sea sounds as deep as 300 feet (90 meters).

What Do Lemon Sharks Eat?

Similar to its more famous cousins, the tiger, bull, and blue sharks, the lemon shark’s diet consists mostly of bony fish, stingrays, crustaceans, and even some smaller shark species. Since they hunt in shallow waters, they might even catch an occasional seabird treat.

To find their prey, lemon sharks rely on electroreceptors that detect the electrical pulses emitted by fish and other lifeforms. Also, they may even hunt as a group of lemon sharks of a similar age and size, not out of necessity but purely for socialization.

a congregation of lemon sharks
source:—a congregation of lemon sharks in Jupiter, Florida

10 Intriguing Lemon Shark Facts

Now that you know how big are lemon sharks and where to find them, let’s take a look at ten other incredible facts that will make them your favorite fish in the ocean world.

  1. Despite inhabiting the Atlantic ocean, they can even be found in eastern Pacific ecosystems, from California to Peru;
  2. Lemon sharks are docile and not aggressive toward humans, and only 10 cases of unprovoked, non-fatal attacks have been recorded so far;
  3. They’re nocturnal and very picky and lazy hunters since they prefer preying on and stalking slower schools of fish;
  4. In addition to their electroreceptors, lemon sharks use very keen magnetic sensors in their noses to make up for their poor vision;
  5. Lemon sharks are extremely social to the point that they organize themselves into hierarchical rule-based groups that allow them to share information about rich hunting grounds and even teach themselves different hunting techniques;
  6. When hunting, lemon sharks often group up and exhibit a ‘feeding frenzy’ behavior—staging an organized and effective group assault;
  7. To find a mate, lemon sharks use the same electroreceptors used for hunting, after which they do anything to impress their potential mate, from biting to dancing;
  8. Female sharks are polyandrous, and they can store the sperm of multiple partners, which then competes during the gestation process;
  9. They are among the most studied shark species on the planet since they can withstand captivity and can even thrive in closed environments;
  10. Since they live in murky waters, evolution has helped lemon sharks develop very unusual eyes that feature rods and cones for picking out shapes and colors.
Some bigger and meaner sharks have indeed fatally attacked humans, but they have unjustly earned their notorious reputation.

Key Takeaways

While seeing a lemon shark for the first time might be scary as it can get up to 11 feet and more than 500 pounds, they are still a ‘small fish’ compared to the bus-sized whale sharks. At the end of the day, lemon sharks are far from small creatures, and they make up for anything they lack with their rich personalities and intriguing social interactions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do lemon sharks eat?

Lemon sharks are opportunistic feeders and scavengers that primarily prey on fish; however, they still consume the occasional crustacean and even smaller shark species.

Do lemon sharks attack humans?

Lemon sharks are not aggressive and do not pose any danger to humans, but they may still approach swimmers as they are very inquisitive and social creatures.

How long is a lemon shark?

The length of adult lemon sharks typically ranges between 8 and 11 feet.

How long do lemon sharks live?

Lemon sharks reach maturity at 12 or 13 years and may live up to 27 years.

How big is a lemon shark as a pup?

On average, lemon shark pups are 50 to 60 cm long at the moment of birth.


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