Shark, Black-tipped Reef
Adult Blacktip Reef Sharks measure about six feet in length. They are easily recognized by their bright black tipped fins, the first dorsal fin being most easily noticeable because of a contrasting white band beneath it. There is also a white streak along the side. Coloration is light gray-brown dorsally, fading to white ventrally, with a darker horizontal band invading the white flanks. The trailing edge of the caudal fin is often clearly lined in black. This is an aggressive shark, abundant, and is the species most likely to be encountered by divers and waders in the shallow waters of the tropical Indo-Pacific. The Blacktip, along with the Gray Reef Shark, may be the only really dangerous species of small, shallow-water shark. They do not hesitate to approach and assault the legs of splashing waders. They enter water only a few inches deep with the back and tail fin exposed as they wriggle over sand flats. Where fishermen are cleaning their catch, or where there are lines of speared fish, they will attack.
Class: Fish (Pisces)
Range: Tropical & sub-tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans, Red Sea and eastern Mediterranean.
Habitat: Warm, shallow waters
Lifespan: They are believed to live as long as 25 years.
Wild Diet: Small fishes, squid, octopus and shrimp
Zoo Diet: Squid, crab, shrimp, smelt – other food that drops to the bottom
They occur singly or in small groups, usually in shallow water. In the past they were not considered to be a good aquarium species because of difficulty transporting them from the wild, and because they would not eat in captivity. More recently, however, new techniques in transporting and feeding have made them a desirable aquarium species. Activity levels increase markedly at night, and tagging studies in Pacific waters suggest that these sharks may inhabit the same microsites for at least two years. They are active swimmers, generally near the bottom, but sometimes visible cruising at the surface in very shallow, wading-depth waters.
Blacktip Reef Sharks are viviparous. They are believed to mate in early summer. Some males have been observed to follow females as if attracted by a female scent or pheromone, but this is an area where there are few facts and much conjecture. Females bear two to five young, about 13 inches in length, from January to June, after a gestation period of about 16 months.
Gestation: About 16 months
Litter: Two to five young; generally four or less
Conservation Status: Near Threatened