The curious thing about this next shark is that the IUCN states: "A separate species may exist in Southeast Asia, but this needs a much more detailed investigation."
So what animal could we possibly be talking about? The spottail shark (Carcharhinus sorrah)!
A tropical Indo-Pacific species, they are found anywhere from South Africa to south China and Australia, observed on continental and insular shelves from 20-140 metres. Population genetic studies of the Indonesian and Australian populations of the spottail shark have shown that they are different! And if you're in northern Australia and Indonesia, you may have seen one of these sharks as they are very common and like to occur near coral reefs.
With a dark band on each side (flank), they are a small shark that gets up to at least 160 cm total length (TL). Spottail sharks have a rounded snout, large eyes, and oblique-cusped serrated teeth that helps them cut into teleost fish, cephalopods and crustaceans. Like many sharks, they are a grey-brown color on top and white below with a copper sheen between the eyes and gill slits. Their pectoral fins, second dorsal fin, and lower caudal fin lobe has black tips; the first dorsal fin and upper caudal fin lobe have black edges.
Preferring soft sediment (mud and sand), the pups like shallow, inshore waters and move into the water column (mainly mid-water or near the surface) as they grow up. Once sexually mature (at around 2-3 years of age), the females can have pups once a year with a gestation period of about 10 months. Litters range from 1-8 pups (and have an average of 3 pups) with a birth size of 50 cm total length (TL). These sharks are viviparous, and are one of the most productive sharks. With fast growth rates, early maturity and being able to pop out pups every year, they may be more resilient than other shark species. Throughout its range they are prized for their meat and fins (which fetch a nice price in Indonesia) making them heavily exploited; they are also caught as bycatch on longlines, gillnets, trawls, and other gear. Nursery areas of these sharks are heavily fished and affected by habitat degradation and pollution, so we do need to monitor this species! Probably why the IUCN has assessed these animals as Near Threatened (NT).
ever seen these critters before?
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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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