There are over 470 species of sharks in the world and it’s possible that there are a few out there still that we don’t know about. For as much as we know about some of them, there is little that we know about others.
When it comes to the sharks that boast the colors of precious metals (copper, bronze, and silver), we happen to know quite a bit about them. The more we learn, the more we realize that different species of sharks have different characteristics, but essentially, they have a lot in common. When it comes to the Copper Shark and the Bronze Whaler Shark, they not only have a lot in common, they are the same shark!
Copper and Bronze; Tomato Tomah-to
Both the Copper Shark and the Bronze Whaler Shark are called “Requiem Sharks” which are large sharks that are often found in warm seas. They are also called other names, such as Cocktail Sharks, Narrowtooth Sharks, and New Zealand Whaler Sharks. Other Requiem Sharks include Blacktip Sharks and Spinner Sharks, and it is easy to confuse them all. We will refer to these sharks as Copper Sharks from this point, but remember that it also includes the Bronze Whalers.
The Copper Shark is an off-shore shark, living in deeper warm waters, but can be found exploring shallow areas frequently. Copper Sharks hang out in large bays, rivers, channels, and in the surf zone. They can can dive deep down below the ocean’s surface to the sea bottom and have been recorded down to 333 feet (100 meters), but might even go deeper than that. They live all over the world, but are mostly found off the coast of Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Mediterranean, Argentina, Southern California, and The Gulf of Mexico.
Copper And Bronze Facts
- Long torpedo-shaped shark
- Known for beautiful copper/bronze-colored back and white belly
- Fins have dark markings with white tips
- No distinguishing ridges
- Can live up to 30 years of age
- Teeth are narrow and hook-shaped
- Meals include squid, octopus, and fish
- Very fast swimmers
- Hunt in large groups
- Associated with the South African sardine run
- The mating process involves biting
The Copper, or Bronze Whaler Shark is certified as near threatened by IUN and they are slowly declining in numbers due to commercial fishing. Much like other different species of sharks, this is (sadly) a popular shark for eating. Rules are now in place that state a fisherman must throw them back if they are caught, and there is hope that this will re-boost the populations. Even though one litter from a mother will produce 7-20 pups, they are one of the slowest-growing shark populations.
There have been several non-fatal attacks on humans, most who were spear fishing or swimming, but they are not as dangerous to man as we are to them.
The Silvertip Shark
Switching from coppery and bronzy beauties to sweet silver, we meet up with the Silvertip Shark. Known for the silvery-white marks on her fins, she is dark gray above and white below; you’ll know a Silvertip when you encounter one. She is also a member of the Requiem Shark family, so there are several things that she has in common with her bronze buddies. Silvertip loves to stay warm and is found in subtropical locations, but she does not swim around the globe like her copper-cousins. You’ll find Silvertips in abundant numbers in the Indian and Pacific oceans. They prefer to stay coastal, often foraging near the coral reefs or the offshore islands. For this reason, care should be taken when swimming or surfing to give these Silvertips room to go along their merry way.
Big, Bold, And Stealth
The Silvertip Shark is one of the more aggressive and bold sharks in the sea. With a size of 10 feet (3 meters) in length and a weight of 375lbs (170kgs), you can imagine the intimidation you’d feel if you came close to a big beauty like this. There is a history of these sharks approaching divers’ up-close-and-personal, very swiftly and silently. They can dive to the depths and rocket to the surface in record-swift time. Their behavior is unpredictable and they are excellent hunters, which make them more threatening to humans. Of course, there have only been 4 provoked attacks since record keeping began, with zero fatalities.
A Sad Common Denominator
One of the biggest things that the Silvertips have in common with the other glittery gals is their place on the conservation list. They, too, are near threatened. They are one of the more over-fished species and they are considered precious commodities in many markets in the Philippines, Myanmar, and Indonesia. They also tend to get caught up in fishing nets with other fish, like tuna. Due to this, their numbers are depleting at alarming rates. They, too, have a very low repopulation rate, with doubling time taking more than 14 years.
Color Plays Its Part
When it comes to different species of sharks, you can easily see that color plays a large part upon their name. From the Blacktip Shark to the Great White and Lemon Sharks, it’s easier to remember who’s who when you have some color to go by. And with so many of them sharing the seas with us, it’s like a heads-up for us to know who we can hang out with, and who we should just observe from a far. As long as we let them do their own thing, they’ll usually let us do ours. And that’s about as good as it gets.