Today, we will be talking about the leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata).
"Hold up. How can we tell the difference?"
Between the two sharks? Easy. The leopard catshark is only found in South Africa. The leopard shark is only found off the coast of California up to Oregon/Washington.
"Oh. Well, that was easy. Wait... how do I tell those two apart?"
The genus Triakis is from the Greek word "triakis," meaning "three pointed," like their three pointed teeth; the species name semifasciata means "half-banded," such as the distinctive bands on this shark. They are a relatively small animal, only getting up to 2.13 m (7 ft) with most being no larger than 1.83 m (6 ft). Their short snout contains tooth sets that overlap different tooth rows. This allows for a flat, ridged area that normally catches invertebrates and small fish. They are dark-grey with dark brown/olive/black saddles and spots, and a lighter ventral side. The leopard shark is sometimes mistaken for the swell shark (Cephaloscyllium ventriosum), however they have flatter heads and are a reddish-brown.
This strong swimmer is often found in schools, along with brown smooth-hounds (Mustelus henlei), gray smooth-hounds (Mustelus californicus), and spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias). This may help them avoid predators, such as larger sharks.
Female leopard sharks are ovoviviparous, having a gestation period of about 10-12 months, with litters of 4-33 pups being born between April/May.
This shark has only one report of a "shark encounter" between a leopard shark and a human. However, no bite was involved, according to the International Shark Attack File.
Due to their slow maturity/growth rate, low reproduction rate and potential overfishing, these sharks may be in trouble. However, the shark is not currently listed as an endangered or threatened species, and is listed as "Least Concern" by the IUCN.