Active during the day and night (3), the leopard shark is often encountered in large, nomadic schools, sometimes mixed with grey and brown smoothhound sharks (Mustelus californicus and Mustelus henlei) and piked dogfish (Squalus acanthias) (1). A large variety of prey is taken, including crabs, shrimps, octopi, fat innkeeper worms (Urechis caupo), fish and fish eggs (2) (4). Burrowing marine invertebrates are one of the most commonly taken food sources, and are extracted by means of the shark grasping exposed parts with its specialised teeth (2).
Recent research indicates that the leopard shark has smaller and more numerous red blood cells than related shark species. This adaptation allows the shark to absorb oxygen more easily and may confer a competitive advantage over some of its close relatives in low oxygen environments such as estuaries (2).
The leopard shark is an ovoviviparous species, which means that it produces eggs that develop and hatch internally, and therefore gives birth to live young (5). Following a gestation period of between 10 and 12 months, a litter of 4 to 33 pups are born, usually between April and May (2). The young measure around 20 centimetres at birth, and grow slowly, only reaching reproductive maturity at an age of around ten years (5).