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Lemon Shark

Negaprion brevirostris

Distinguishing Characteristics

Illustration of a lemon shark showing important characteristics
  • Snout bluntly rounded, shorter than width of mouth
  • Back is yellowish-green, brown or olive-gray, fading to a white belly
  • First and second dorsal fins are nearly equal in size
  • No interdorsal ridge

Similar Species: Bull shark, C. leucas (first and second dorsal fins are unequal in size); nurse shark, G. cirratum (has nasal barbels)


Maximum size about 9-10 feet. Matures at approximately 11-12 years of age (about 8 feet) and is estimated to live 27+ years.


An abundant, inshore tropical shark that inhabits both estuarine and nearshore waters of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of Florida. Commonly enters estuarine waters and often ventures into freshwater areas, but does not penetrate as far up rivers as the Bull shark. Migrates southward and into deeper waters in the winter months.


Feeds on a variety of bony fishes, crustaceans, mollusks, rays, small sharks, and occasionally on sea birds.


Mating occurs during early summer months and after 12 months of gestation, females give birth to live young in shallow flats. Broods contain 4-18 pups. Size at birth about 2 feet. Juveniles use seagrass flats, mangrove forests, and tidal creeks as nursery areas.

Additional Information

Prohibited from harvest in Florida state waters. However, this species is still taken in federal waters and targeted commercially in the longline fishery mainly for their fins, marketable flesh, and hide. Does well in captivity, with young individuals being favorite subjects for physiological and behavioral studies. Has been involved in only a few non-fatal bites on humans.

Recreational Regulations


Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles