8 Fun Facts About Blacktip Reef SharksSimon Vetterli
1. The blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) is a species of requiem shark. It gets its name from the prominent black tips on its fins. The word requiem comes from the French word for shark, requin. They are similar to blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus), which do not have black markings on their pelvic fins.
2. These sharks are common on tropical Indo-Pacific coral reefs in shallow, coastal waters. At the surface, it’s easy to spot their exposed first dorsal fins.
3. They can grow to be about 7 feet, but a blacktip’s average length is a little more than 5 feet. Its maximum weight is about 30 pounds. Newborn pups measure about 16 to 20 inches long.
4. Blacktip reef sharks are viviparous — producing live pups instead of eggs — and give birth to up to 10 pups each year. The pups reach maturity at an average age of about 4 years old for males and 7 years old for females. Most live to 13 years of age, sometimes longer.
5. Timid and skittish, blacktip reef sharks don’t usually pose a threat to humans. But their shy behavior does make it difficult to get close to them while scuba diving.
6. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the blacktip reef shark as Near Threatened.
7. Blacktip reef sharks are homebodies. Researchers studying the population off Palmyra Atoll in the central Pacific found the blacktips living there have a home range of around .21 square miles, among the smallest of any shark species.
8. Blacktip reefs prefer eating small fishes, including mullet, jacks and wrasses. They have sometimes been observed hunting cooperatively by “herding” small schools of fish.