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New Caledonia Shark - Underwater Panorama of a Leopard Shark Stegostoma Fasciatum
New Caledonia

The Leopard Shark, Stegostoma fasciatus, reportedly eats small fish and molluscs. Molluscs probably make up the bulk if its diet. I can't imagine how it could catch a fish as this is one very lethargic creature. Freddy, who was watching me take this image, said it looked like a big log lying on the bottom until the shark decided my camera housing was intruding on its personal space (about 50cm from its nose) and it very slowly swam off with a small remora suckered onto its back. Possibly it feeds at night when many fish are asleep. Only a really sleepy fish could be caught by a leopard shark.

One look at the photo will tell you why this shark (a little under 2-metres long) is named after a Leopard, but when it is a juvenile it has vertical black and white stripes until it is about 0.4 metres long and is called a Zebra Shark.

They are normally found in the lagoon on sandy bottoms from 4 to 30 metres deep. They have probably never even contemplated biting a human although I think if you grabbed it by the tail it might be frightened enough to try.

This one was in the Ilot Mato Anchorage in New Caledonia's southern lagoon, part of the New Caledonia Lagoon World Heritage Site .

Copyright: Richard chesher
Type: Spherical
Resolution: 13680x6840
Uploaded: 17/04/2010
Updated: 23/05/2014
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Tags: shark; new caledonia; leopard shark; stegostoma fasciatus; mato anchorage; anchorage new caledonia; new caledonia lagoon; underwater panorama; underwater; diving; snorkeling; dive
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New Caledonia is the closest South Pacific Island to Australia and New Zealand. It is a French Territory and although the official language is French the culture is a blend of Melanesian, European, Polynesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more. There is one large mountainous island called Grande Terre and 6 smaller islands - the three Loyalty Islands, Belep and the Isle of Pines.The islands are remarkably unpopulated and there are vast areas of wilderness. There are hundreds of kilometers of walking treks, camp grounds, more than 42 parks and reserves, and crystal clear rivers with sparkling waterfalls. Almost one third of the population is located in the capital city of Noumea. Nickel mining is the primary industry and is the major contributor to the high standard of living in the country. Grande Terre is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world and the protected lagoon created by this barrier reef is the largest in the world. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the lagoon is 24,000 square kilometers and supports a diverse and luxuriant fauna of fish and invertebrates.The vibrant, clear and rich colors are one of the first things that visitors notice when they arrive. Noumea has a complete range of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and activities to welcome visitors.