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the web of life in southern Africa

Stegostoma fasciatum (Zebra shark)

(Hermann, 1783)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Chondrichthyes > Elasmobranchii > Galeomorphii > Orectolobiformes > Stegostomatidae

Stegostoma fasciatum (Zebra shark) [Illustration by Ann Hecht ]


An unmistakable long-tailed shark, yellow-brown with black spots in adults, black with yellow bars in young.


To 3.5 m TL.


East coast from Cape St. Francis to Natal and Mozambique; widespread in the tropical Indian Ocean and Western Pacific.



An inshore shelf-dweller, common on coral reefs.


Common off Natal and Mozambique, rare in the eastern Cape. Lays several large, dark brown or purplish-black egg cases with fine hairlike fibers, which anchor them to the bottom. Feeds on octopi, clams, mussels, marine snails, crabs, shrimp, and small bony fish. Its relatively narrow, slender, flexible body allows it to squirm into cracks, crevices, and narrow channels in the reefs while searching for food. Rare south of Natal.

Human Impact

Used elsewhere for human consumption.

Text by Leonard J.V. Compagno, David A. Ebert and Malcolm J. Smale