Zebra Shark


Name: Zebra Shark

Local name: Hayysa, Gatwo

Scientific name: Stegostoma fasciatum

Classification: Class: cartilaginous fishes; Order: carpet sharks; Family: zebra sharks (Stegostomatidae)

Synonym: Stegostoma varium, Stegostoma varius, Stegostoma tigrinum

Size: It normally reaches 280 cm; the maximum length on record is 354 cm.


This species is a bottom-dwelling inshore shark, which is common in coral areas, where it mainly feeds on mollusks, but also on crustaceans, small fish, and sea snakes. Zebra sharks are oviparous, laying eggs in large, dark egg cases. They are normally harmless, but may bite if provoked.


The Zebra Shark is widely distributed in the Indo-West Pacific, occurring from the Red Sea and East Africa to New Caledonia and Fiji, north to southern Japan, and south to Australia.

Conservation status:

According to the IUCN Red List, it is globally Vulnerable (VU). Though of minor commercial importance, it is regularly taken in bottom trawls (outside Qatar), gill nets and longlines and utilized for human consumption and fishmeal.


This species is easily recognized by its very long caudal fin, which is almost as long as the rest of the body. Adults are yellow-brown with dark brown spots, young are black with yellow bars and juveniles smaller than 70 cm are dark with white bars and spots. Adults have longitudinal skin ridges which are lacking in juveniles. The pectoral fins are large and broadly rounded.