Whitetip Reef Shark
Other Names: White tipped reef shark
Family: Carcharhinidae (requiem sharks) 60 species worldwide. Migratory, live-bearing sharks of warm seas (sometimes of brackish or fresh water).
Size: Usually under 1.6 m
Distribution: One of the most common sharks found on Indo-Pacific coral reefs.
Status: Near Threatened
Habitat: Associated almost exclusively with coral reef habitats, whitetip reef sharks are most often encountered around coral heads and ledges with high vertical relief, and additionally over sandy flats, in lagoons, and near drop-offs to deeper water. They prefer very clear water and rarely swim far from the bottom. This species is most common at a depth of 8–40 m.
During the day, whitetip reef sharks spend much of their time resting inside caves. Unlike other requiem sharks, which rely on ram ventilation and must constantly swim to breathe, this shark can pump water over its gills and lie still on the bottom. At night, whitetip reef sharks emerge to hunt. Whitetip reef sharks are rarely aggressive towards humans, though they may investigate swimmers closely. However, spear fishers are at risk of being bitten by one attempting to steal their catch.
Photo: Sydney Aquarium. High Resolution 3328 x 2219.
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