- A small shark, only growing to 4 feet long
- Named for the prominent spines, or “horns”, in front of its dorsal (top) fins
- Shades of tan and gray in coloration, with a blunt snout
- Prominent ridges over eyes
- Prominent black spots over entire body
- Have sharp teeth in front for grasping prey, and flat, molar-like teeth in back for crushing shellfish
- Adult males are smaller than females
- Juveniles are like miniature adults
- From central California to Baja California
- Found in kelp forests and rocky reefs
- They hide in caves and recesses during the day and hunt at night
- Prefer water less than 40 feet deep
- Females mature at 2 feet long, males are smaller and mature at 1.8-2 feet long
- Horn sharks lay eggs every 11-14 days from February to April
- A female may lay up to 24 eggs per season
- These sharks have some of the most unique eggs in the animal kingdom
- Their egg cases are spirals, which the females wedge into crevices; the spiral keeps the egg from drifting away
- The shark pup inside the egg case will take about 6-9 months to hatch, and hatches at 6-7 inches long
- Crustaceans, sea urchins, small fish, molluscs
- Other sharks and large fish
- Horn sharks sometimes crawl in the sand and on rocks on their strong pectoral (front) fins.
- To crack the shells of their prey, the horn shark generates the highest known bite force relative to its size of any shark.
- Horn sharks are hunted for their spines, which are turned into jewelry. They are also often caught as bycatch in fisheries.
Sources: Monterey Bay Aquarium; Huber et al. 2005; Florida Museum
Photo: David R. Andrew
Want to see a live horn shark? Catch one on Birch Aquarium’s Kelp Cam, or visit Birch Aquarium today! You can also hold a horn shark egg at Birch’s touch tank or during their Spring Eggstravaganza!