...more about the Blacktip Reef Shark
At around 1.6 metres in length, the Blacktip Reef Shark is a compact triumph of nature’s design. Every biological detail combines to make a truly inspiring predator. The Blacktip’s jaws are filled with some of nature’s deadliest teeth. They are triangular in shape, with an extremely sharp point and serrated edges. They’re perfect for tearing through flesh and make light work of even the toughest catch.
The Blacktip is streamlined to perfection and equipped to rifle through the water at tremendous speeds. The pectoral fins are large and sickle-shaped, tapering to points while the sizeable first dorsal fin is high with a curving S-shaped rear, positioned over the free rear tips of the pectoral fins. The second dorsal fin is large with a short rear margin, placed opposite the anal fin. Make no mistake, this is an animal built for speed.
The awesome power that the Blacktip can generate is demonstrated when it ‘breaches’. This is the term used to refer to the shark’s ability to jump completely out of the water. It is one of the few sharks that can perform such a manoeuvre.
So what’s on the menu for these fearsome hunters? Well, what isn’t? The Blacktip Reef Shark powers through a huge contrast of small fish including mullet, groupers, grunters, jacks and surgeon fish. And that’s just the beginning. The Blacktip also devours squid, octopuses, shrimp and sea snakes. Yum yum! Even smaller sharks and rays are attacked and gobbled up, though this is rare.
The Blacktip Reef Shark can be spotted around the world. It is especially common throughout the nearshore waters of the tropical and subtropical Indo-Pacific. It can be found in the Indian Ocean too, from South Africa to the Red Sea and eastward along the coast of the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia. In the Pacific Ocean, it is found from southern China and the Philippines to Indonesia and northern Australia.
They are generally found in and around coral reefs, although younger sharks prefer shallow sandy flats. Perhaps they want to build their confidence before heading into the deeper water? Blacktip Reef Sharks have also been spotted in freshwater lakes and estuaries.
When it comes to their reproductive cycle, Blacktips are rare among sea creatures in that they are viviparous. That means they bear live young that have developed inside the body of the mother. Females can carry up to seven young in their bodies and after a 12 month gestation period the pups are delivered. Talk about a difficult birth!
The pups are generally around 30-45 centimetres long when they’re introduced to the world. In the wilds of the ocean they have to grow up fast and independent feeding begins immediately. They will live for around 12 years.
The main threat to this species is human disturbance. Blacktips are caught by inshore fisheries for human consumption. Their fins are especially sought after for shark fin soup, a delicacy in many cultures. Unfortunately, this has been a major factor in the decline of their population in recent years.