A few weeks ago I was at my old high school giving a talk about sharks. Students were asking about different social behaviors exhibited in sharks and I decided to show my two favorites: oceanic white tip shark and the whitetip reef shark. These two sharks are superbly different, yet they get confused a lot. As I was showing the whitetip reef shark’s shark bio up on the projector, the teacher (a good friend of mine) stopped me and read out loud (from the captions I had), “Actually, now that I think about it, the white tips kind of remind me of the “frosted tips” phase in the 90’s… hee. Funny mental image of white tip reef sharks being in a 90’s boy band. Back Street Boys. N*Sharks. You get the drift. Wait, wait, wait, I have another one: Shark Street.”
He looked back at me once he was done and burst out laughing. "Typical Melissa." So, why do I bring this up?
Well, I found the shark missing from Shark Street, guys. Everyone, meet the silvertip shark (Carcharhinus albimarginatus).
This requiem shark is in the Carcharhinidae family, and is also going to be the lead singer of Shark Street. They look mighty similar to the grey reef shark, except bulkier and larger… and, duh, with silver tips. You can even say it’s like an "upgraded" grey reef shark (I may be watching Pokemon as I type this… don’t judge). (Same family, same thing? Riiiiiight?)
Now, it doesn’t mean it’s a giant shark by any means; maximum length is 10 feet (3 meters). Both the grey reef shark and silvertip shark live in similar habitats, except the silvertip shark has a more fragmented distribution through the Indian and Pacific Ocean.
They’re mostly encountered off island coasts and in coral reefs, stalking out prey (which includes bony fish, eagle rays, cephalopods and smaller sharks). These sharks usually win when competing for food with other sharks. Don’t worry, silvertips, I get it. If someone wanted to steal my rightly earned chocolate chip cookie, I’d fight them too.
They don’t spend all their time in the shallows, however. These sharks are known to dive down up to 2,600 ft (800 m). This doesn’t keep them safe from the commercial fishery that targets them for their meat, fins, jaws, teeth and cartilage (for cartilage pills), however.
Once again, I reiterate: there are no medicinal cures from shark products. Shark cartilage will not keep cancer at bay, guys. And this sort of misinformed thinking has caused local population declines.
Off my soap box. (Except, not really and not ever.)
Let’s change the subject: shark babies! They are viviparous, and females can give live birth to anywhere from one to eleven pups in the summer months. Like most sharks, they are slow-reproducing.
Due to them frequenting coral reefs, these sharks can come in close contact with humans (especially divers). If you’re lucky enough to see one, enjoy it. They’re assessed as Near Threatened (NC) by the IUCN!
so... shark street. can we make that a thing?
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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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