Zebra Shark, Stegostoma fasciatum (Hermann 1783)

Other Names: Leopard Shark

A Zebra Shark, Stegostoma fasciatum, in the Aquarium of the Pacific. Source: Ross D. Robertson / Shorefishes of the neotropics. License: CC by Attribution-Noncommercial


A very distinctive and easily identified shark with a very long tail. During the day, divers usually see Zebra Sharks resting motionless on the bottom. At night, they actively hunt, wriggling into caves and crevices in search of prey.

Adults are yellowish to tan or brown with dark leopard-like spots. Juveniles are brownish to blackish with vivid white bands and large blotches. As the shark grows, the stripes gradually break up into spots.

The Zebra Sharks (Leopard Sharks) of 9-Mile Reef, off the Tweed Coast, northern New South Wales

Video of Zebra Sharks at Byron Bay, New South Wales

A Zebra Shark at Sangalaki, Borneo

Video of courting Zebra Sharks (Leopard Sharks) in the Townsville Reef HQ Aquarium

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Stegostoma fasciatum in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Nov 2019, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1978

Zebra Shark, Stegostoma fasciatum (Hermann 1783)

More Info


Recorded in Australia from Port Gregory, Western Australia, around the north to Montague Island, New South Wales. Also found around a number of Coral Sea Island. Found elsewhere in the tropical Indo-west Pacific.

Zebra Sharks usually occur on shallow coral reefs and sandy bottom habitats near reefs. During summer months in Moreton Bay, Queensland, reproductively mature adults aggregate in large numbers.


Zebra sharks feed at night mostly on gastropod and bivalve molluscs, and to a lesser extent on crabs, shrimps and small fishes. 


Females lay large (17 cm long) tough egg capsules that become anchored to the bottom by tufts of hair-like filaments or fibres.


The species is heavily fished in shallow water fisheries throughout its range except in Australia where it is taken in small numbers as bycatch in prawn trawls.


  • EPBC Act 1999 : Not listed
  • IUCN Red List : Least Concern (Australia), Vulnerable (Worldwide)
  • Species Citation

    Squalus fasciatum Hermann, 1783, Tabula affinitatum Animalium: 302. Type locality: No locality, probably Indonesia.


    Dianne J. Bray

    Zebra Shark, Stegostoma fasciatum (Hermann 1783)


    Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

    Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

    Brunnschweiler, J.M. & Pratt, H.L. (Jr.) 2008. Putative Male – Male Agonistic Behaviour in Free-Living Zebra Sharks, Stegostoma fasciatum. The Open Fish Science Journal 1 (1): 23–27.

    Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125. Rome : FAO Vol. 4(1) pp. 1-249.

    Compagno, L.J.V. 1998. Families Ginglymostomatidae, Stegostomatidae, Rhincodontidae. pp. 1260-1263 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 2 687-1396 pp.

    Compagno, L.J.V. 2001. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks (Heterodontiformes, Lamniformes and Orectolobiformes). Rome : FAO, FAO Species Catalogue for Fisheries Purposes No. 1 Vol. 2 269 pp.

    Compagno, L.J.V., Dando, M. & Fowler, S. 2005. A Field Guide to the Sharks of the World. London : Collins 368 pp.

    Dudgeon, C.L., Broderick, D. & Ovenden, J.R. 2009. IUCN classification zones concord with, but underestimate, the population genetic structure of the zebra shark Stegostoma fasciatum in the Indo-West Pacific. Molecular Ecology 18 (2): 248–261. Abstract

    Dudgeon, C.L., Coulton, L., Bone, R.,  Ovenden, J.R. & Thomas, S. (2017) Switch from sexual to parthenogenetic reproduction in a zebra shark. Scientific Reports 7: 40537  

    Dudgeon, C.L., Noad, M.J. & Lanyon, J.M. 2008. Abundance and demography of a seasonal aggregation of zebra sharks Stegostoma fasciatum. Marine Ecology Progress Series 368: 269–281. PDF

    Goto, T. 2001. Comparative Anatomy, Phylogeny and Cladistic Classification of the Order Orectolobiformes (Chondrichthyes, Elasmobranchii). Memoirs of the Graduate School of Fisheries Science, Hokkaido University 48 (1): 1–101.

    Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp.

    Hermann, J. 1783. Tabula affinitatum Animalium. Argensorati. (Treuttel) 370 pp.

    Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.

    Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls.

    Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia 2, 550 pp.

    Pillans, R. & Simpfendorfer, C. (SSG Australia & Oceania Regional Workshop, March 2003) 2003. Stegostoma fasciatum. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 15 August 2012.

    Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

    Stead, D.G. 1963. Sharks and Rays of Australian Seas. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 211 pp. 63 figs. (as Stegastoma tigrinum)

    Whitley, G.P. 1940. The Fishes of Australia. Part 1. The sharks, rays, devil-fish, and other primitive fishes of Australia and New Zealand. Sydney : Roy. Zool. Soc. N.S.W. 280 pp. 303 figs. (as Stegostoma tigrinum naucrum)

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37013006

    Conservation:IUCN Least Concern (Australia)

    Danger:May bite if provoked

    Depth:5-60 m

    Habitat:Reef associated, sandy areas

    Max Size:354 cm TL

    Species Maps

    CAAB distribution map