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Atlantic Sharpnose Shark

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Atlantic Sharpnose Shark
Rhizoprionodon terraenovae

Atlantic Sharpnose Shark
Photo modified from Sharks and Rays. TC Tricas, K Deacon, P Last, JE McCosker, TI Walker, L Taylor. 1997. Nature Company Guides, Time Life Book Series. Weldon Owen Pty Ltd San Francisco.

   The Atlantic sharpnose shark is a small shark that attains a maximum size of 1.2 meters (4 feet). It has a long snout and labial folds around its mouth. The triangular smooth edged teeth are similar on both the upper and lower jaws. The Atlantic sharpnose shark can be brown, olive-gray or blue-gray turning to white on the underside. Adults may have some white spots and smaller individuals tend to have black edged dorsal and caudal fins.

Diet

   This shark consumes shrimp, molluscs and small fishes.

Reproduction

   Sexual maturity is reached when an individual is approximately 83 cm (33 inches). The young are nourished within the female as development is viviparous. Litters of 4 to 7 pups are born in June in shallow waters or estuaries. The newborns are 22 to 35 cm (9 to 14 inches) in length.

Habitat

   The Atlantic sharpnose shark is common in coastal waters at depths of 12 meters (42 feet) or less during the summer months. During the winter this shark can be found at depths greater than 27 meters (90 feet).

Atlantic Sharpnose Shark
Photo modified from Sharks and Rays. TC Tricas, K Deacon, P Last, JE McCosker, TI Walker, L Taylor. 1997. Nature Company Guides, Time Life Book Series. Weldon Owen Pty Ltd San Francisco.

Range

   Although its scientific name may suggest that it can be found off of Newfoundland, the Atlantic sharpnose shark has not been reported in those waters. Indeed, it is not a common shark anywhere in Canadian waters. Its most northerly distribution is in the Bay of Fundy and it is rare even in that area. More commonly this small shark is found in the coastal waters of South Carolina, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico where it is a year round resident.

Distinguishing Characteristics

  • May have black edged dorsal and caudal fin
  • Long labial furrows around corners of mouth
  • Nictitating membrane over eye
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