Leopard shark swimming in front of tall kelp trees

Leopard shark

Leopards of the sea
leopard shark


North America
North America
Endangered Status



5 to 7 feet
in length
The average bed is 6.25 feet long.
Leopard shark compared to a bed's size
and more

Leopard sharks eat crabs, fish eggs, clam siphons, and burrowing worm species. As they grow older, they eat more fish. They have even been found with other sharks, rays, and octopus in their stomachs!

beach habitat


Leopard shark swimming in a large water tank past rocks with sea sponge and coral decorations on them

Leopard sharks inhabit a narrow band of ocean and inlet areas in the Pacific Ocean between Oregon and the Gulf of Mexico. They are some of the most common sharks found along the coast of California. These sharks have dark, saddle-shaped splotches along the fins and upper body.


closeup of leopard shark swimming in blue waters

Fish or mammal?

Sharks are cartilaginous fish, which means that their skeletons are made entirely of cartilage (the same squishy material that is found in our human nose and ears). They are a lot more flexible than their "bony" fish cousins.

Zookeeper in wetsuit helps a young leopard shark into the water

Friend, not food

There are no reported fatal attacks on humans by leopard sharks. In fact, there are only a handful of reported “attacks” by leopard sharks at all. These attacks could be in the form of the shark just bumping into a human.

A fisherman releases a leopard shark back into the water

However, leopard sharks are occasionally caught as a food source for humans. Because of their slow growth rate, late maturity, and low reproductive output, catching too many leopard sharks can cause their populations to rapidly decline.