The leopard shark, Triakis semifasciata, is a hound shark found in the coastal waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean, along the coast of North America from Oregon to Baja California. The species can grow up to 7 ft (2 m) in length, with a long, slender body and head. The distinctive markings that give the species its common name provide camouflage against dappled ground. Leopard sharks are bottom feeders, eating worms, mollusks, crustaceans, octopuses, and small fish.
Leopard sharks migrate seasonally. Their reproduction is aplacental viviparity (no yolk-sack placenta); the 4 to 29 pups per litter gestate within the body of the female and are born live. Gestation is estimated at 10 to 12 months.
The sharks hunt in groups, sometimes with smooth-hound sharks. The species is actively sought by sport fishermen in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Monterey Bay for its tender, flavorful flesh. Conservationists are concerned with sport fishing of the species, which, like most sharks, reproduces slowly.
Leopard sharks are found in rocky areas, rocky reefs, kelp beds, sandy areas and under piers. Leopard sharks swim at depths of 10 to 250 ft. They are usually seen swimming at 20 feet or less. They prefer cold to warm water. They are often seen at large shoals but when breeding can be solitary.