We had the most amazing dive the other day where we jumped straight into a pod of dolphins and saw octopuses and a whole lot of turtles. But, the highlight of the dive was how at the end we came across a group of blacktip reef sharks! They are easily recognizable by the black tips on their pectoral fins, second dorsal fin, and the lower lobe of the caudal fin as well as white stripe on their side.
They are found in warm shallow waters and over coral reefs, which is why divers tend to have frequent encounters with these beautiful sharks.
Although they are known to have a rapid growth rate at first it slows down a bit during adulthood. They still tend to measure a good 6 feet and can even weight up to 13 kilograms.
They have long thin serrated teeth and the first two rows of teeth help them to catch prey and the other rows of teeth rotate into place as needed. Worn down and broken teeth are eventually replaced.
They hunt in small groups during daytime and their diet consists mainly of varieties of small fishes and invertebrates, including mullet, groupers, wrasses, cuttlefish, squid and shrimp.
They are excellent swimmers and have been observed to come to the surface and leap out of the water and spin before dropping back into the sea. And as much as I hope that they were practicing some amazing acrobatic skills they actually do this to feed on small schools of fishes.
Blacktip reef sharks have an average life span of 12 to even 25 years. Their mating season is from November to March and after fertilization the pups develop inside the mothers womb where they remain for about a year. Surprisingly there have even been records of asexually reproducing black tip reef sharks. Once they are born they live in shallow coastal nurseries that are abundant with food and have fewer predators. Mothers have even been tracked travelling back to their old nurseries to give birth.
Although these timid sharks are not a threat to humans always remember that while you are visiting their territory never touch, taunt or feed them to ensure that both you and the sharks are safe at all times.
Always remember that these beautiful creatures are constantly under the threat of humans that hunt them for their meat, fins and teeth etc. You can help by refusing to buy any products made with them since their fins, teeth and meat might look great to you as a piece of jewellery or as a meal but trust me they look much better on the shark itself.