To see photographs of the Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus
melanopterus) click here.
Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus)
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Taxonomic name: Carcharhinus melanopterus
There are three species of blacktip shark in Australian
waters, all looking almost identical to the untrained eye. The Blacktip
Reef Shark is a common species usually found in shallow inshore reefs
and lagoons; the other two species are more oceanic in their range.
As its name suggests the Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus)
has black tips on all of its fins, with larger areas of black on the lower
tail lobe and the first dorsal fin. The body colour can vary from grey
to yellowish brown with a pearly blaze on the flanks.
Two to four young are born each November. They start life as perfectly
formed 50 cm miniatures of their parents and grow to 18 m. Diet consists
of reef fish, crabs, shells, squid or anything else that appeals to their
palate. In northern Australia 25 per cent of stomach contents were found
to be snakes.
This shark is usually seen by waders, snorkelers and divers in very shallow
water. As the tide comes in over exposed coral reef platforms it follows
the rising waters hunting and feeding as it goes. At times it is in water
so shallow that the dorsal and tail fins are exposed like a frame out
of a cliched shark cartoon.
On rare occasions waders have been bitten by this species, an accident
caused by the shark mistaking a foot or leg as a struggling fish. However
under normal circumstances the Blacktip Reef Shark is a curious but inoffensive
animal, approaching divers and snorkelers before resuming its search of