Fun Blacktip Reef Shark Facts For Kids

Aashita Dhingra
Feb 29, 2024 By Aashita Dhingra
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Shray Sharma
Blacktip reef shark facts like they can jump like dolphins are interesting
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.5 Min

A blacktip reef shark is a type of requiem shark (the migratory sharks that live in warm seas) that has always fascinated animal enthusiasts with its look. The scientific name of blacktip reef shark is Carcharhinus and its appearance is marked by the notable black tips on its dorsal and caudal fins. Having a small-medium size, this species of shark prefers shallow waters of coral reefs, making them a striking aquatic animal for divers to witness.

Blacktip reef shark size is about 7 ft. However, the average length of these shark species is slightly more than 5 ft, and its maximum weight reaches 30 lb. The length of newborn blacktip reef sharks is about 16-20 in. They have horizontally oval eyes and narrow cusps of the teeth.

Like the porbeagle shark and the zebra shark, Blacktip reef sharks are some of the most common sharks found near the islands in the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. The species is also present in Northern Australia,  Mauritius, Seychelles, South Africa, Madagascar, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Red Sea, and the Maldives.

You may also check out the fact files related to porbeagle shark and zebra shark from Kidadl.
 

Blacktip Reef Shark Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a blacktip reef shark?

A blacktip reef shark is a requiem shark.

What class of animal does a blacktip reef shark belong to?

A blacktip reef shark belong to the class of Cartilaginous fishes.

How many blacktip reef sharks are there in the world?

There is no known figure for how many blacktip reef sharks there are in the world.

Where does a blacktip reef shark live?

Blacktip reef shark live in the the ocean.

What is a blacktip reef shark's habitat?

The Indo-Pacific region is the most explored blacktip reef shark habitat. Sharks prefer the inshore shallow waters akin to that of coral reefs for their habitat. Blacktip reef sharks are commonly found within the intertidal zone with depths of 1 ft. (30 cm) or less.

Who do blacktip reef sharks live with?

These sharks prefer small groups over large ones

How long does a blacktip reef shark live?

Male pups mature in four years, while female ones mature in seven years. They are known to live for 13 or more years.

How do they reproduce?

Blacktip reef sharks (Carcharhinus Melanopterus) are known to reproduce viviparously, meaning they don't lay eggs. The embryo of the young sharks takes shape within the mother's body, thereby making this species of sharks different from the others that reproduce oviparously. These sharks nourish their young ones in utero through a yolk-sac placenta. Experts have reported both biennial and annual reproductive cycles across various components of the range. Summer and early autumn are when their mating and parturition occur. However, the gestation period differs with the location from 8-9 months, 10-11 months, and 16 months. So, the overall gestation period falls somewhere between 8-16 months. Litters of newborn sharks generally contain 2-4 pups.

What is their conservation status?

The population of blacktip reef sharks is decreasing with time owing to multiple factors, such as increasing human activity and climate change. This is the reason why they are given the "Near Threatened" conservation status by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Ever-increasing human interactions, such as overfishing, the use of sharks as aquarium exhibits, and other activities, have threatened these animals greatly over the years. Considering the seriousness of the situation, proactive and ongoing conservation measures both at national and international levels can make a positive difference in the aquatic ecosystem. Hence, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has emphasized the conservation and protection of the range of these sharks to maintain the needed balance in the food chain.

Blacktip Reef Shark Fun Facts

What do blacktip reef sharks look like?

The blacktip reef shark is characterized by its prominent black tips on the dorsal fin and pectoral fins. They resemble the blacktip sharks, known as Carcharhinus limbatus, the species that do not have black markings on their pelvic fins. The top half of this shark has a brownish hue, making a visible sight in the shallow water of the coral reefs. The underside of the shark is white and has a heavy build. The fusiform body of this shark features a sharp snout and long gill slits. The dorsal fins of this species of shark have no ridge between them.  The first dorsal fin as well as the caudal fins have a black blotch, brilliantly highlighted with white. All other fins of this shark have black tips and each flank has a brilliant white band.

Although blacktip reef sharks are timid in nature, the can sometimes become aggressive, so it's better not to swim with them

How cute are they?

Blacktip reef sharks are dangerous like any carnivore living in the marine ecosystem. However, these animals can be quite cute to look at. The black tip on the first dorsal fin along with the white hue makes them prominently visible in the shallow water. The cuteness of these animals in the reefs is further accentuated by the short rounded snout and their oval, wide eyes.

How do they communicate?

Just like other species of sharks, these sharks assume the status of a predator in the reefs. Given the fact that this species of sharks mostly live in the shallow waters of the Pacific and the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, they have fewer interactions with other predators. However, the typical habitat certainly creates enough options for these animals to prey on and form a relationship of commensalism. Generally, commensalism is seen between the blacktip reef shark and other crustaceans and bony fishes. The Pacific blacktip reef shark also forms such a relationship with the remora, which are little fishes that feed on the shark by attaching to its fins. The remora gets the necessary feed while the shark remains unaffected throughout the range in this commensalism.

How big is a blacktip reef shark?

There is always a regional variation in the size of the reef shark Carcharhinus Melanopterus at different stages of its life.  The maximum size of sharks Carcharhinus is generally no more than 160 cm (5.2 ft), although a size of 180 cm (5.9 ft.) has also been recorded. These sharks are 33-59 cm (1-2 ft.) when born. Male reef sharks mature to size in the range of 91-100 cm (3-3.3 ft.), while mature female blacktip reef sharks measure 96-112 cm (3.1-3.7 ft.). This makes this species of sharks 12 times bigger than Spined Pygmy sharks, which is one of the smallest shark species measuring 18-21 cm long.

How fast can a blacktip reef shark swim?

The reef shark Carcharhinus Melanopterus is known for its speedy drop-offs and swift cut-throughs. Their drop-offs and average speed decrease during high tide at night, mostly because of the reduced body metabolism due to the cooling of the water, the invasion of cooler water in the coral reefs, in the Indo Pacific range. It is interesting to note that these sharks at Aldabra are comparatively more mobile than those found at Palmyra. Individual movements of up to 1.6 miles over 7 hours was the speed of the  Carcharhinus melanopterus recorded in Aldabra.

How much does a blacktip reef shark weigh?

The International Game Fish Association has recorded a maximum weight of 13.6 kg (30 lb).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the male and female blacktip reef sharks.

What would you call a baby blacktip reef shark?

The name for a baby blacktip reef shark is a pup.

What do they eat?

The blacktip reef shark diet is mostly fish, but they also eat crustaceans, cephalopods, as well as mollusks.  They feed on squid, octopus, shrimp, cuttlefish, algae, rats, coral, and turtle grass. Interestingly, sharks Carcharhinus are seen consuming both sea and terrestrial snakes. There are also reports of a blacktip reef shark feefding on smaller sharks and rays in the ecosystem.

Do humans eat them?

The consumption of shark meat is legal in the United States and many parts of the globe. So, this species of shark is used mostly for its protein-rich meat, dorsal fins for preparing fin soup, and also for making liver oil. However, many parts of the world, especially in Indo-Pacific regions that form the range of this species, have come to realize that the commercialization of these products is not quite significant and proves ecologically detrimental in the long run. Sharks' conservation through controlled or sustainable use has become a matter of urgency in these times to reduce the damaging ecological impacts.

Would they make a good pet?

Sharks are wild animals, and would require big open spaces. They would not make a good pet, and could be dangerous.

Did you know...

A huge number of reef shark deaths take place due to human hunts in sea waters and climate change? These factors could potentially degrade aquatic food chains and irreparably alter coral ecosystems, thereby calling for serious conservation measures.

These sharks eat light. New research has found that these animals lack the taste of human meat because cases of attacks on humans are far and few in between.

These sharks can do something called breaching. This is its ability to jump out of the water and dive back in, something akin to a dolphin.

Blacktip reef shark teeth are wide-ranging. The blacktip reef shark coral species has narrow cusped teeth on the upper jaw and serrated teeth on the bottom jaw. Such an arrangement of teeth allows them to incisively pierce the flesh of its prey and cut through it.

Do blacktip reef sharks attack humans?

Timid and playful, these sharks don’t often pose a threat to humans unless provoked or lured by food. In fact, scuba divers love their shyness because that allows them to go slightly closer to them without the fear of being attacked. Cases of attacks on humans are surprisingly low. However, conflicts do arise because these animals swim around the reef where human presence is increased. They prefer to live in small groups in undisturbed places, but they tend to become aggressive in places where spearfishing is practiced regularly.

How blacktip reef sharks survive from other predators?

The blacktip reef shark adaptations have fascinated divers visiting the Indo-Pacific waters for several years now. It's quite interesting to observe that despite their highly predatory instincts, these sharks get scared very easily. Whenever the blacktip reef shark Carcharhinus faces any threat within the shallow waters of its ecosystem, its body turns into an S-shape and rolls from one side to the other. Though it is not completely known why they do that, experts believe it's a form of self-defense mechanism.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including hammerhead shark, or toadfish.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our blacktip reef shark coloring pages.

Blacktip reef shark Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Jacks, wrasses, mulltet

What Type of Animal were they?

Small fishes

Average Litter Size?

2-4

How Much Did They Weigh?

30 lb

What habitat Do they Live In?

sand flats and reef ledges

Where Do They Live?

indo pacific coastlines

How Long Were They?

5.2 ft. (160 cm)

How Tall Were They?

7 ft. (213.36)

Class

Chondrichthyes

Genus

Carcharhinus

Family

Carcharhinidae

Scientific Name

Carcharhinus melanopterus

What Do They Look Like?

Tan brown

Skin Type

Scaly

What Are Their Main Threats?

humans

What is their Conservation Status?

Near Threatened
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Sources

bioweb.uwlax.eduen.wikipedia.orgaustralian.museumwww.iucnredlist.orgen.wikipedia.org

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Written by Aashita Dhingra

Bachelors in Business Administration

Aashita Dhingra picture

Aashita DhingraBachelors in Business Administration

Based in Lucknow, India, Aashita is a skilled content creator with experience crafting study guides for high school-aged kids. Her education includes a degree in Business Administration from St. Mary's Convent Inter College, which she leverages to bring a unique perspective to her work. Aashita's passion for writing and education is evident in her ability to craft engaging content.

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