We’ve spoken in length about bull sharks here at The Fins United Initiative. Well, we’re about to introduce you to one of their cousins, also in the Carcharhinidae family: the pigeye shark (Carcharhinus amboinensis). Sometimes known as the “java shark” (they like a good cup of Joe?), these requiem sharks aren’t as common as their cousins… brethrens… whatever.
They look a lot alike (although pigeye sharks have no recorded human attacks). Both bull sharks and pigeye sharks are robust and bulky, sporting a grey color on their dorsal side and a white belly, with a pale band on the flanks (sides). They have small eyes and a short, blunt snout… actually, with this description, doesn’t it sound exactly like the bull shark?
Differences? Quite a few: precaudal (before the caudal fin) vertebral count (89–95 in the pig eye versus 101–123 in the bull shark) and the sizes of their dorsal fins, fewer tooth rows in the lower jaw than the bull shark to name a few. Another important difference: pigeye sharks do not go into brackish/freshwater, unlike the bull shark.
The pigeye’s first dorsal fin is pretty large, triangular in shape, and has a trailing bit in the back. The second dorsal fin is much smaller than the first dorsal fin, originating before the anal fins. They lack a midline ridge between these two dorsal fins. Their pectoral fins, meanwhile, are sickle-shaped and darker in color at the edges; their caudal fin is asymmetrical.
However, even though these sharks look a lot alike, there isn’t concrete evidence about their evolutionary relationship.
Fun fact: An albino pigeye shark was caught off Queensland in 1987. [Albinism in the pigeye whaler shark Carcharhinus amboinensis (Muller and Henle) from Queensland. RJ McKay, K Beinssen. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 25, 463-464, 1988.]
An adult pigeye measures anywhere from 1.9m to 2.5 m (6.2–8.2 ft) long, the largest can measure up to 2.8 m (9.2 ft) long.
They prefer shallow, murky, warm, coastal waters off in the eastern part of the Atlantic Ocean and sometimes travel to the Indo-Pacific region. Although seen in these areas, they are not “common” in any one place. While roaming, their diet isn’t picky: they eat anything from bony and cartilaginous fishes to crustaceans, sea snakes and cetaceans.
They practice live birth to anywhere between three to thirteen pups, after a gestation of up to a year. As in many sharks, the young stay safe in sheltered bays and lagoons, movements following tidal/seasonal patterns.
The IUCN presently lacks adequate data to assess the conservation status of this species, so they are Data Deficient (DD).
did you know about this species of shark?
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
SEE MELISSA'S TEDx TALK HERE:
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