The blacktip reef shark, Carcharhinus melanopterus, is a shark of tropical and warm temperate seas. It is often confused with the blacktip shark, Carcharhinus limbatus.
One of the most common sharks found in shallow (sometimes as shallow as 30 cm) water around coral reefs of Indo-Pacific waters. The water they swim in is usually between 20 and 27° C (70 to 80º F). Blacktip reef sharks do not venture into tropical lakes and rivers far from the ocean.
As its name suggests, the tips of the shark’s pectoral fins and dorsal fin are black, with a white underside. Its skin is brownish in color on the top half of its body. It has been recorded at up to 2 m (6.5 ft) in length and over 99 lbs (45 kg) in weight. Its snout is blunt and rounded. The gray reef shark looks similar, and is also common, but is distinguished by its stockier and grey body and its lack of a black tip on the dorsal fin.
A blacktip reef shark’s diet consists mainly of reef fish, but they will also feed on rays, crabs, crustaceans, cephalopods, and other mollusks.
Reproduction, behavior, and interaction with humans
Reproduction is viviparous, with 2 to 4 pups in a litter. Before giving birth, female blacktip reef sharks will incubate their young for 16 months. The pups’ length at birth ranges from 33 to 52 cm.
This species is not considered social, but can be seen in small groups. While generally shy, they often are curious about snorkelers and scuba divers. As with most sharks, the body is bent into a sort of “S” shape when the shark feels threatened. Blacktip reef sharks are harmless unless provoked. Incidents generally involve hand feeding or spear fishing, possibly in combination with low visibility.
The blacktip is one of only a few sharks that can jump fully out of the water, a behaviour called breaching. They have also been observed surfacing to look around (spy-hopping).
Blacktip reef sharks are often the bycatch from other fisheries and are often wasted. Their populations are declining, and so are the population of many other shark species. Their fins are used for shark fin soup which is a major factor in the population decline in recent years.They don’t attack humans. (text source: Wikipedia)
Pictures: Misool Islands, Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia by Sami Salmenkivi