Other Southern California Shark Species


Bat Ray SharkMyliobatis californica      

Broadnose Sevengill Shark, Notorynchus cepedianus

Dusky Shark, Carcharhinus obscurus

Horn Shark, Heterodontus francisci  

Leopard Shark, Triakis semifasciata 

Pacific Angel Shark, Squatina californica    

Smoothhound Shark, Mustelus spp.


Bat Ray Shark Myliobatis californica

Bat Ray Shark, Myliobatis californica

Distribution: From the Gulf of California, Mexico to Oregon. Found in the intertidal down to about 45 m deep (150 ft) in sandy and muddy bays and sloughs and in kelp beds; also able to jump out of the water and glide along surface for periods of time

Growth and Development: Viviparous, with 2-12 pups per litter; born 30-36 cm (1-1.2 ft.) and reach maturity 2 years of age or 67-68 cm disc-width (2.2 ft.) for males and around 5-6 years for females; maximum size 180 cm (6 ft.), and 23 years of age. Mating season in spring or summer, 8-10 months gestation period; females form large mating aggregations and pregnant females give birth in shallow waters.  

 Feeding: Bottom-feeder that digs for shellfish (primarily clams and oysters) and other invertebrates with its snout or brushing up sand with pectoral fins, crushes shells with its powerful jaws; tail armed with a venomous stinger.

Broadnose Sevengill Shark, Notorynchus cepedianus

Broadnose Sevengill Shark, Notorynchus cepedianus

Distribution: Circumglobal; found mostly in cool temperate inshore continental waters worldwide, and from British Columbia south to the Gulf of California, Mexico, most common off central California and in deeper waters off southern California (Eschmeyer et al. 1983). Often found in aggregations in turbid coastal waters, common in shallow bays and close to shore to the surf line, and in deeper waters to 140 m. Taken incidentally in driftnet and trawl fisheries; also sought after by anglers in central and northern California (Ebert, 1989).

Growth and Development: Ovoviviparous and mates in autumn/winter. About 1-year gestation period with litter size of 60-100 pups; newborn length doubles in 6 months and adults grow 0-9 cm/year. Has seven gill slits and only 1 dorsal fin, with scattered black spots. Reported up to 290 cm (9.7 ft).

Feeding: Feeds on bony fish, small whales, seals, carrion; attacks prey at high speed while cruising, most active at night and in overcast conditions; powerful top predator. 

KPBS Report: Sevengill sharks in La Jolla

Watch a video of SWFSC Biologist, John Hyde, comment on Sevengill sharks in the La Jolla Cove The previous link is a link to Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries disclaimer


Dusky Shark, Carcharhinus obscurus

Dusky Shark, Carcharhinus obscurus

Distribution: In warm waters in Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans; in the eastern Pacific from Redondo Beach, southern California  to the Gulf of California and the Revillagigedos Islands. Juveniles occur in California waters primarily during warm water years. Dusky sharks occur both offshore and inshore over the continental shelf, 0-400 m, and often seen offshore following ships; are also migratory with changing temperatures in subtropical and temperate areas.

Growth and Development: Viviparous, yolk-sac placenta; 16-month gestation period with litter size 3-14 pups, born 70-100 cm TL (2.3-3.2 ft), mothers immediately depart post-birth and young pups form large feeding aggregations; females mature at around 17 years of age and 257-300 cm TL (8.4-9.8 ft) and males mature at 280 cm TL (9.2 ft). Maximum reported size 400 cm TL (13 ft.). Juveniles and adults may undertake sexually-segregated movements either north and south or inshore and offshore. Has a low dorsal ridge along the back between the two dorsal fins.

Feeding: Known to eat fishes, sharks, rays, crustaceans; generally considered dangerous in some parts of its range, although no attacks against humans have been recorded along the U.S. West Coast. 



Horn Shark, Heterodontus francisci 

Horn Shark, Heterodontus francisci

Distribution: Gulf of California, Mexico, north to Central California; rarely north of Point Conception. A small bottom shark that prefers rocky areas, in crevices and caves; also sandy patches and kelp beds, usually in water 8-35 ft deep (2.4-11 m).

Growth and Development: Ovoviviparous, lays spiral-shaped egg cases; mating season December-January and eggs laid February- April under rocks and in crevices. Born 15-16 cm TL (0.5 ft) and maximum length reported is 122 cm (4 ft.). Males mature around 60 cm TL (2 ft) and females mature at a large size.

Feeding: Feeds on invertebrates, such as sea urchins, crabs, squid and sometimes fish. Primarily nocturnal and active feeder at night.


Leopard Shark, Triakis semifasciata

Leopard Shark, Triakis semifasciata

Distribution: Cool to warm temperate continental shelf, intertidal; found in shallows, muddy bays, flat sandy areas, rocky reefs and kelp beds from Mazatlan, Mexico to Oregon and abundant in central and southern California. Caught largely in bays, off jetties, along sandy beaches most of the year and in large numbers in San Francisco Bay in the fall; often form large nomadic schools (occasionally with other species).

Growth and Development: Ovoviviparous, no yolk-sac placenta, with about 5-30 pups/litter. Reported to attain 6 ½ ft (198 cm) in length. Grey with black spots and crossbars; belly lighter

Feeding: Diets vary with size and season; early May sharks are shown to feed almost exclusively on fish eggs, while crabs are more important in those leopard sharks examined in late May (Ebert and Ebert, 2005). 


Pacific Angel Shark, Squatina californica

Pacific Angel Shark, Squatina californica

Distribution: Gulf of California, Mexico north to Alaska, but unusual north of California. Also occurs from Peru to southern Chile. Often found lying partially buried on sandy bottoms in sand channels between rocky reefs during the day, and appears to move little away from its home territory. Once the subject of a developing fishery, it became the leading food shark in 1985-86, after which time a size limit was imposed and much of inshore fishing effort was curtailed after a voter initiative banned gillnetting inshore of 3 miles.

Growth and Development: Flattened ray-like shark born 25-26 cm TL and reach maturity at 100 cm; max length reported up to 152 cm (5 ft). Gestation period 9-10 months, with 6-10 pups/litter; live 10-13 years.  

Feeding: Lies buried in flat sand to ambush prey, feeds actively at night. Feeds on fish (Pacific hake, halibut, croakers, flatfish, corbina) and invertebrates (squid, octopus, crustaceans).


Smoothhound shark, Mustelus spp.

Brown smoothhound,  Mustelus henlei 

Distribution: Occurs from the Gulf of California north to Coos Bay, Oregon; Ecuador to Peru. Most cold-tolerant of the three smoothhound species found off California, and resides in the north with visitation down south. Often found resting on seabed, continental shelf, intertidal, and enclosed, muddy bays.

Growth and Development: Viviparous, with 3-5 pups per litter; pups born around 20 cm TL (0.7 ft.) and adults reach maximum size 95 cm TL (3.1 ft.); males mature 52-66 cm TL (1.7- 2.1 ft.) and females mature 51-63 cm TL.

Feeding: Crustaceans, polychaete worms, and fish.



Circumglobal Occurring around the world; having a worldwide distribution.

Epipelagic The term epipelagic usually refers to waters from the surface to depths generally not exceeding around 200 m (0-109 fm).

Mesopelagic The term mesopelagic usually refers to the vertical habitat within the mid-depths of the ocean between 200 and 1000 m (109-547 fm).

Neritic Inhabiting primarily coast waters primarily over the continental shelf; generally over bottom depths equal to or less than 183 m or 100 fm deep.

Oceanic Inhabiting the open sea, ranging beyond continental and insular shelves, beyond the neritic zone. 

Ovovivipary  Reproductive mode in which female sharks lay conical or oblong egg-cases on the bottom; young sharks are miniatures of the adults and hatch in about a month to more than a year.

Pelagic The term pelagic refers to the vertical habitat of an animal living in the upper levels of a body of water. See also epipelagic and mesopelagic.

Viviparous  Reproductive mode in which female sharks give birth to live young; equivalent to placental viviparity and includes aplacental viviparity.

Ocean zones


Compagno, L., Dando, M., and Fowler, S. (2005). 'Sharks of the World.' (Princeton University Press: New Jersey)

Ebert, D. A. (1989). Life history of the sevengill shark, Notorynchus cepedianus, Peron, in two northern California bays. California Fish and Game 75, 102–12.

Ebert, D. A., and Ebert, T. B. (2005). Reproduction, diet and habitat use of leopard sharks, Triakis semifasciata (Girard), in Humboldt Bay, California, USA. Marine and Freshwater Research 56, 1089–1098.

Eschmeyer, W. H., Herald, E. S., and Hammann, H. (1983). 'A Field Guide to the Pacific Coast Fishes of North America from the Gulf of Alaska to Baja California.' (Houghton Mifflin: Boston.)

Goldman, K., Kohin, S., Cailliet, G.M. & Musick, J.A. 2009. Lamna ditropis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.1. www.iucnredlist.org.