Phew, this shark goes by a few names! It goes by the “Black-vee Whaler,” “Fowler's Whaler Shark,” the “Graceful Shark,” the “Graceful Whaler Shark,” the “Longnose Blacktail Shark” and the “Grey Reef Shark.” Thankfully their scientific name remains the same: Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos.
Like other Carcharhinus sharks, they all do look like that typical “shark” image our brain conjures up when we think of that word. With large eyes, long pectoral fins with dusky edges both on top and bottom, a tall first dorsal fin with a dusky tip, and a grey-copper sheen to it… it sort of looks like the Galapagos shark. The grey reef shark may sometimes have a white tip and white posterior margin on that first dorsal fin, too. Outside of the colouration of the tail telling the two apart (the grey reef shark has a dark lower caudal fin and outside edge), the only other way is the precaudal vertebrae. Yes, that means the shark has to be dead. For those wondering it is 110-121 vs. 103-109.
Found in tropical marine waters throughout the indo-west and central pacific, they are one of the species TFUI Founder Melissa may work with for her PhD! They are commonly seen on coral reefs but can get down to 280 metres. #Finfact: they are one of the species of sharks that have a well-documented threat display! They are territorial, and display involves raising its head, arching its back, lowering its pectoral fins, and swimming with exaggerated movements. They feed on fish as well as molluscs, squid, octopus, and crustaceans. Yes—they have bitten a few people as well.
The grey reef shark is aplacental viviparous, and females give birth to 1-6 pups after a gestation period that lasts 12 months. Males mature anywhere from 120 to 140 cm total length (TL) while females mature around 125 cm TL. The pups are born at about 45-60 cm in length. The IUCN has assessed them as Near Threatened (NT) due to their restricted habitat, site fidelity, small litter size, late age of maturity, and fishing pressure in their area.
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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