The Reef Shark, plays an extremely important role in the Earth’s ecosystem. There are 5 types of Reef Sharks:
- Blacktip Reef Sharks
- Gray Reef Sharks
- Caribbean Reef Sharks
- Whitetip Reef Sharks
- Silvertip Reef Shark
Although they only grow to about 1.6 to 3 meters (5 to 10 feet) in length, these sharks are the apex predators on the very delicate coral reefs. That means, around coral reefs, they are the top of the food chain. The significants of this goes largely unnoticed, but the World Wildlife Fund has classified the Reef Shark as one of the most important species on the entire planet!
While scientists are still trying to determine exactly how many of theses species exist, we do know that many of these sharks lose their lives from getting caught in fishing nets. Not only does it significantly reduce their population, it compromises the fragile ecosystem around coral reefs. Many new laws and regulations are being put into place to protect this ever important fish.
As you can imagine, these fish love the tropical and subtropical water at coral reefs. They are mostly found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans as well as in Japanese Waters and the Mediterranean Sea. Normally, they are seen in shallow water near the surface and don’t seem to go deeper than 80 meters (260 feet).
The sharks hunt squids, crabs, lobsters, shrimps, and every type of reef fish. What’s interesting is their specific technique. They have found a way to “herd” their pray against reef faces.
This species is Viviparous, which means the “pup” develops inside the mother, similar to the way human babies are developed. The pregnancy period is about 1 year and they typically don’t give birth to more than 5 pups at once. The average size of a pup is 120 to 160cm (4 to 5 feet). Pup sharks reach maturity after about 5 to 6 years of age.
They are a larger threat to reef divers than any other shark and are considered to be moderately dangerous to humans.
Usually, Grey and Silvertip Reef pose the biggest problems to divers, especially in the presence of food. Their aggression increases when they leave the safety of coral reefs and head into open waters.
The vast majority of attacks from this shark are non-fatal and usually results from the shark feeling threatened.