To see photographs of the Whitetip Reef Shark (Triaenodon
obesus) click here.
Whitetip Reef Shark (Triaenodon obesus)
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page are copyright protected: © 2010 Kelvin Aitken.
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Taxonomic name: Triaenodon
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.