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To see photographs of the Whitetip Reef Shark (Triaenodon obesus) click here.

Whitetip Reef Shark (Triaenodon obesus)

Whitetip Reef Shark (Triaenodon obesus)

All images and text on this page are copyright protected: © 2010 Kelvin Aitken.
All rights reserved. Students may use this information for personal research only. Not for commercial use.

Order: Carcharhiniformes
Family: Carcharhinidae
Genus: Triaenodon
Species: obesus
Taxonomic name: Triaenodon obesus

Not to be confused with the Oceanic Whitetip, the Whitetip Reef Shark (Triaenodon obesus) is probably the most common shark encountered by divers and snorkelers on tropical reefs. While it has the potential to give a serious bite if molested, baited or provoked, the Whitetip Reef Shark is generally considered to be harmless to humans.

This shark is easily identified by its small, broad and flattened head. The protective ridges above its eyes give it the appearance of having a permanenent scowl. A white tip is present on the first and sometimes on the second dorsal fin as well as the tail lobes. Its body is dark grey, sometimes with small, dark scattered spots, becoming lighter on the flanks to blend with a white belly.

During the day this shark can be found resting on the seabed, either in the open, under a ledge or in caves within a loose territorial area. The Whitetip Reef Shark is one of the few sharks seen while mating. The male lays alongside the female and grasps her pectoral fins firmly in his mouth. As the pair lie vertically in the water with their heads on the coral reef, he inserts one clasper into her genital opening. Tawny Nurse Sharks have been photographed mating in a similar manner.

During the night the normally docile Whitetip Reef sharks become very active searching out fish, octopuses, cuttlefish, crabs and lobsters. Their tough hide, slender body, blunt snout and protective eye ridges enable them to move and hunt in very confined spaces within the reef.

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