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.
The Grey Reef Shark is only found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In the Indo-Pacific Oceans, it is usually found in the waters around Madagascar. In the Western Pacific, the sharks are usually in waters around Southern China and Northern Australia. It is one of the most common reef sharks in the Pacific Ocean, along with the blacktip and whitetip reef sharks.
The shark species is usually found in shallow waters, eating reef fishes and crustaceans such as squid, octopus, shrimp, and lobsters. They have also been known to eat bony fish such as cowfish, surgeonfish, and butterflyfish. Like other sharks, the Grey Reef Shark will eat the young of its fellow species if it needs to. Sharks aren’t very judgmental when it comes to eating dinner.
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.
Relationship With Humans
The Grey Reef Shark and human beings have an interesting relationship. The sharks are valued for their fins, which are used for food items such as shark fin soup. However, this shark species is usually out of the range of commercial shark fisheries.
In relation to shark attacks, the Grey Reef Shark will only attack a person once it feels threatened. According to shark studies, this shark species has been responsible for seven unprovoked attacks. However, none of these attacks led to any fatalities.
If this shark feels threatened, it will exhibit a behavior that is described as follows. It will raise its snout, depress its pectoral fins, and arch its back while swimming in an exaggerated way. If the threat continues, the Grey Reef Shark will move lightening fast, biting the attacker quickly before retreating.