Cat and Horse

Cat and Horse
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Blacktip Reef Shark

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The Blacktip Reef Shark is easily identified by the prominent black tips on its fins (especially on the first dorsal fin and the caudal fin). Among the most abundant sharks inhabiting the tropical coral reefs of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, this species prefers shallow, inshore waters and its exposed first dorsal fin is a common sight in the region. Most blacktip reef sharks are found over reef ledges and sandy flats, though they have also been known to enter brackish and freshwater environments. This species typically attains a length of 1.6 m (5.2 ft). Blacktip reef sharks have extremely small home ranges and exhibit strong site fidelity, remaining within same local area for up to several years at a time. They are active predators of small bony fishes, cephalopods, and crustaceans, and have also been known to feed on sea snakes and seabirds. Timid and skittish, the blacktip reef shark is difficult to approach and seldom poses a danger to humans unless roused by food. Although the species as a whole remains widespread and relatively common, overfishing of this slow-reproducing shark has led to its decline at a number of locales. A robustly built species with a streamlined "typical shark" form, the blacktip reef shark has a short, wide, rounded snout and moderately large, oval eyes. This shark is a pale grayish brown above and white below, with an obvious white band on the sides extending forward from above the anal fin. All the fins have black tips highlighted by lighter-colored borders, which are especially striking on the first dorsal fin and lower caudal fin lobe.

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