Shark Series – The Lemon Shark

Shark Series - The Lemon Shark
A lemon shark resting on the bottom – Credit: Greg Amptman

Here’s all you need to know about the Lemon Shark

It’s closely related to the great white shark.

Lemon sharks are sturdy, powerful and can grow up to 3 meters (10 feet).

But relax. Don’t panic when you see one of these sleek creatures during your dive.

Lemon sharks do not attack humans. And as a result of the growing occurrence of divers and dive clubs offering “swimming with sharks” experiences, the Lemon Shark is gaining some attention.

Identifying Marks / Features

You can easily identify a lemon shark since they have a yellow body coloring, a flattened head with a short and broad snout. Lemon sharks have two dorsal fins that almost have the same size. In other sharks, the first dorsal fin is usually larger than the second dorsal fin.

Click the picture to learn why Sharks behave as they do – Credit: Greg Amptman

Where to Dive with Lemon Sharks

Lemon sharks thrive in the sub-tropical region. They can be found in the southeastern and western Atlantic Ocean and in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Lemon sharks are usually found in groups occupying shallow reefs and mangrove areas. They can also be found in the deep ocean. Just as the bull sharks, lemon sharks swim upstream in freshwater rivers, but they tend to stay near the river mouths.

Underwater Interaction: Diving with Lemon Sharks

Ideally, interacting with lemon sharks should be done while observing them in their natural state. However as shark feeding is fast becoming a popular underwater experience, lemon sharks can now be fed underwater. The jury is still out on whether shark feeding is good or bad, but anecdotal evidence points to the generally positive experience divers glean from diving with them and the future of sharks due to a growing appreciation.

Click the picture to read more about the impact of the reef – Credit: Moize Nicolas

Conservation Status

Lemon sharks are targeted by commercial and recreational fishermen primarily due to their highly prized fins. Their meat is also in high demand and has been a delicacy in many areas. Further, the continuing destruction of habitat has led to the severe decline of lemon shark population. Many sharks are killed due to the massive demand for shark fins.

These potentially catastrophic disturbances have placed Lemon Sharks on the Threatened Species list under the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Greg Amptman
Greg Amptman

It’s only just recently that the character of sharks as well as the integral role they plan in maintaining a healthy balance of the ecosystems in which they’re found has begun to be better understood. As scuba divers visiting the sea, we notice imbalances and, indeed, must take some responsibility for its protection.

Before you plunge, get wet and interact with lemon sharks and other marine animals, we will leave you with this question to ponder:

CAN DIVING BE FUN AND ENJOYABLE WITHOUT FISH, SHARKS, AND OTHER AMAZING CREATURES? AS DIVERS, WE ONLY LEAVE BUBBLES AND TAKE ONLY PICTURES.

Is wild observation and interaction of lemon sharks (without the use of shark feeding) becoming more difficult to experience?

Have you encountered a lemon shark? How was your interaction? Share with us your thoughts in a comment below!

You can also read our related article on swimming with sharks and feeding sharks.

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James Baker
James Baker
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I was snorkeling in key west yesterday looking under ledges when a 6 foot lemon swims right up to me, which actually happens alot here, but this time it didn’t swim away. I swam towards it’s tail and it swam towards my Finn’s. We did about 4 circles at less than a foot apart. I was wondering why it stayed so close. I felt like it was trying to bully me out of it’s spot. If anyone can help me understand why the shark did that I would greatly appreciate it

John Andrews
John Andrews
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Visited Buck Island in 1977 with my dad. That snorkel trip made our decision to begin diving. Was so beautiful then. I hope it’s still nice.

Robert Clare
Robert Clare
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Swam With Lemons in Cape Verde, not aggressive, they seem to want to intereact with humans.

wendy raven
wendy raven
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i saw a shark today about 2 meters.i was in the water untill my knies and it swom just about 3 a 4 meter before me.i run out of the water and a surfer told me that it was a lemonshark.this was about 7pm today at miami beach fl.

G Price
G Price
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We saw a lemon shark today at Buck Island in St. Croix. We watched him swim past us, and took a few photos, but mostly we just felt full of awe and happiness.

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