Getting their name from the black tips on their fins, the blacktip reef shark is a commonplace in many coral reefs, beaches, bays, and can even be seen in estuaries. They like the waters just off the coast of Pacific regions, like Japan, New Caledonia, northern Australia. Philippines, and Thailand. They can also be spotted in the Indian Ocean and from South Africa up to the Red Sea. Due to bycatch (getting caught in fishing nets and long lines) and overfishing for their fins and oil, the blacktip reef shark is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN.
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Carcharhinus melanopterus
Weight: Up to 41 lbs.
Length: Up to 5.2 feet
Lifespan: Up to 12 years
Now on to the Facts!
1.) Being a little skittish and even described as timid, these sharks typically don’t pose much of a threat to humans, but there are exceptions.
2.) Blacktip reef sharks prey on wrasses, smelt-whiting, jacks, crabs, lobsters, mullet, mojarras, squid, shrimp, carrion, octopus, seabirds, cuttlefish, and surgeonfish.
3.) Their only predators are larger sharks, like tiger sharks and grey reef sharks, when the blacktip is still small.
4.) These sharks tend to have a very small territory, only .25 square mile.
5.) Just like all other known sharks, blacktips have evolved specialized cells in their snouts called electroreceptors. These allow them to detect the electrical current of a passing prey item. So they can see their prey, even at night.
But wait, there’s more on the blacktip reef shark!
6.) The blacktip reef shark is viviparous (produce live pups and not eggs).
7.) Females give birth to between 4 – 11 pups every 2 years.
Did you know…?
Blacktips often swim in schools, unlike most other sharks.
8.) Newborn pups are about 20 inches long.
9.) Blacktip reef sharks are nocturnal (active at night).
10.) They have to keep swimming to pass oxygenated water over their gills. If they stop swimming they will drown.
Now a Short Blacktip Reef Shark Video!
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