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This Zebra Sharks - Stegostoma fasciatum is often confused with Leopard Sharks - Triakis semifasciata. Adults Zebra Sharks are light brown in colour with black spots whereas juveniles are with black stripes, hence its common name. This pair of Leopard Sharks were seen in the midst of their 'courting ritual', with the male Shark 'biting' the female's tail to put her into tonic immobility. Tonic immobility is a natural state of paralysis which animals enter, often called animal hypnosis. Its function is not certain. It may be related to mating in certain animals like sharks. When the female Shark is in tonic immobility, she lays upside down, hardly moving and from time to time, we can see the male Shark 'biting/nibbling' the tail of the female Shark, which continues to put her in tonic immobility. This 'courting ritual' may goes on for hours before the actual mating takes place. We spend more than 30 minutes observing this behaviour, but ran out of bottom time and did not get to see the copulation.
Pic#1- close-up of the female's face, showing not all sharks have sharp teeth. Pic#2 - the female lying upside down in tonic immobility Pic#3 - close-up of male biting the female's tail Pic#5 - showing the whole pair of Zebra sharks