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Whitetip reef shark

Posted on: April 23, 2010

Above the whitetip reef shark

1. The whitetip reef shark is fearless and curious when it comes to spear fishers. They have been known to steal the fish and bitten people in the process. They get aggressive when provoked and will attack. They have been known to come closely to swimmers but not attack unless provoked. As of 2008 there has been two provoked attacks and three unprovoked.

2. The whitetip reef shark is found around the Indo-Pacific waters. In the Indian ocean it is found in many place like South Africa to the Red Sea and many islands. The most place where they are found is in lagoons and around coral heads and ledges with high vertical relief, and over sandy flats and near drop-offs to deeper water. They prefer very clear water and rarely swim far from the bottom. The whitetip reef shark is most common at a depth of 8–40 m (26–130 ft). On occasion they may enter water less than a meter deep.

3. After a gestation period of 10–13 months female whitetip reef sharks give birth to litters of 1–6 (usually 2–3) pups. The whitetip reef shark is viviparous which mean once the developing embryos eat their supply of yolk the mother gives them more yolk sac which is last until birth. The pups measure 52–60 cm (20–24 in) long. Females give birth while swimming. Each pup takes under an hour to fully emerge. Sexual maturity is reached at a length of around 1.1 m (3.6 ft) and an age of 8–9 years and though mature males as small as 95 cm (37 in) long have been recorded from the Maldives suggesting regional variation in maturation size. On the Great Barrier Reef males live to 14 years and females to 19 years the maximum lifespan of this shark may be upwards of 25 years.

4. The whitetip reef shark feeds mainly on bony fishes, including eels, squirrelfishes, snappers, damselfishes, parrotfishes, surgeonfishes, triggerfishes and goatfishes, as well as octopus, spiny lobsters and crabs.
Whitetip reef sharks hunt mostly at night when many fishes are asleep and easily taken. After dusk groups of sharks often search for food together but often breaking off pieces of coral in their search of prey. Each shark hunts for itself and in competition with the others in its group. Unlike blacktip reef sharks and grey reef sharks whitetip reef sharks do not become more excited when feeding in groups and are unlikely to go in to a feeding frenzy. Despite their nocturnal habits whitetip reef sharks will hunt have been known to hunt in the daytime.

5. The whitetip reef shark is most active at night or during slack tide and spends much of the day resting inside caves singly or in small groups. The daytime home range of a whitetip reef shark is limited to approximately 0.05 km 2 (0.019 sq mi) at night this range increases to 1 km 2 (0.39 sq mi). These sharks are not territorial and share their home ranges with others of their species.

6. A relatively small species a few whitetip reef sharks are longer than 1.6 m (5.2 ft). The maximum reported weight is 18.3 kg (40 lb). The whitetip reef shark has a slim body and a short, broad head. The snout is flattened and blunt there are large flaps of skin. The eyes are small and oval. The mouth has a distinct downward slant with short furrows at the corners. There are 42–50 tooth rows in the upper jaw and 42–48 tooth rows in the lower jaw. Each tooth has a single narrow, smooth-edged cusp at the center. The first dorsal fin is positioned well back on the body, closer to the pelvic than the pectoral fins. The second dorsal and anal fins are large, about half to three-quarters as high as the first dorsal fin. The broad, triangular pectoral fins originate at or slightly before the fifth gill slit. There is no ridge between the first and second dorsal fins. The lower lobe of the caudal fin is half the length of the upper. The color is grayish to brownish above and white below, with a pattern of scattered small, dark spots unique to each individual. The tips of the first dorsal fin and upper caudal fin lobe, and sometimes also the second dorsal fin and lower caudal fin lobe, are bright white.

All of this info is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitetip_reef_shark

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