The Gray Reef Shark, also known as the Bronze Whaler Shark, Short Nose Blacktail, or Carcharhinus Amblyrhynchos, is a beautiful medium sized shark which can be distinguished from other sharks by the plain white-tipped dorsal fin and the dark tips on all other fins.
The Gray Reef typically grows no larger than 2.5 meters (8 feet) and 35 kilograms (77 pounds) in weight. This species can live to about 25 years of age. What really sets this shark apart is its keen sense of smell.
Like all Reef Sharks, it loves the warm and shallow waters near coral reefs or atolls. This is the most common shark in the entire Indo-Pacific and spends most if its time in depths up to 800 meters (2,635 feet).
This is a very social species, often seen building “schools” of more than 100. They are active both during the day as well as at night. Social hierarchies and dominance varies depending on the habitat of various shark populations, but a social structure is almost always apparent.
Because they are larger than most other species of Reef Shark, they are considered the most dominant species in the sensitive reef ecosystem.
The main food source is bony fish, octopus and squid. At times, they will also feed on lobsters and crabs. This shark is an excellent open water hunter due to its extremely sensitive sense of smell. They can smell and track prey from a very long distance. But they are also excellent at trapping schools of fish next to reefs, especially when they hunt in groups.
Mating and Offspring
As with other reef species, this shark is Viviparous, meaning eggs develop inside the female and a live birth takes place. This shark only copulates every other year, at which time, 1 to 6 pups are born. Pregnancy lasts between 9 to 14 months.
The population of the Gray Reef Shark is considered “near threatened” mostly due to commercial fishing and depletion of coral reefs caused by humans. They are commercially fished for shark fin soup and fish meal. Severe poaching has become more of a concern and new protective laws are being considered to slow the population depletion.
The threat to humans is extremely minimal. They often are curious of divers and may swim closely, but usually lose interest quickly. Most attacks occur when they are speared by spear fishers, in open waters, or when food is present.