HORN SHARK
Heterodontus francisci

Habitat: Horn sharks typically are found during the day in caves and crevices.

Average adult size: Adults can grow to be 3 feet long.

Natural history: Horn sharks are named for the white spines at the front of both dorsal fins. They are docile, often found sleeping during the day in caves or crevices, or under large blades of kelp. Adult horn shark eyes are very sensitive to light and hide in dark places during the day. The horn shark lives on the bottom, camouflaged with dark brown spots. Horn sharks are nocturnal, roaming the reef at night. Horn sharks eat fish, sea urchins and crabs. A big part of their diet are fish like the blacksmith, that are active during the day. But, at night, these fish make easy targets while they sleep in crevices on the reef. When their diet is mainly purple sea urchins, the horn shark's spines turn purple. Horn sharks lay eggs. The egg case is about 5 inches long and shaped like a spiral cork screw. The egg case is the color of kelp, so it is hidden from predators. The egg cases are scattered among the rocks and hatch six to nine months later. The baby horn sharks measure 6 to 7 inches long. The babies' spines are sharp at birth, protecting them from being a meal for an angel shark or sea bass. Horn sharks are known to live up to 25 years, and may live to be 50 years old. Adults live in the same underwater neighborhoods all their lives. One tagged horn shark was found in almost the exact same spot more than 11 years later.

Range: From Point Conception, California, south to the Gulf of California.


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