What To Look For:
A small slender shark with a disgusted expression and white- tipped fins.
Both dorsal fins are about the same size.
Dark grey with conspicuous white tips on first dorsal fin and caudal fins.
Adults are rare over 5.25 ft [1.6 mi., but a few individuals may reach nearly
7 ft (2.13m). Males mature at about 3.4 ft [1.05 mi., and reach 5.5 ft
(1 68m). Females mature at 3.4 to 3.57 ft (1.05 to 1.09m), and reach at least
5 18 ft (1.58m).
Small smooth-edged teeth with strong cusplets in both jaws.
Common tropical inshore bottom-dwelling shark frequently found in shallow
clear water, on or near coral reefs.
Wide-ranging in the Indo-Pacific. In Australian waters it is found off
Queensland, north and western Australia.
The shark feeds primarily on octopus, spiny lobsters and crabs, and bony fishes
including eels, squirrefishes, snappers, damselfishes, parrotfishes,
surgeonfishes, and triggerfishes.
Viviparous; litter size ranges from 1 to 5 (usually 2 or 3) following a
gestation period of at least 5 months. Size at birth is 20.5 to 23.6 inches (52
to 60 cm). Females give birth in autumn or winter: at Enewetak Atoll they give
birth in July, in French Polynesia they give birth from May to August. It
appears that the shark may take 5 years to reach maturity, and has a maximum
life-span of 25 years.
The whitetip reef shark is a bottom-oriented shark that rarely comes to the
surface. It has an undulating swimming pattern and is capable of resting
motionless on the bottom for long periods of time. Studies indicate that this
species is most active at night, and at slack tides in areas were strong
This shark is adept in capturing bottom prey in crevices, holes and caves in
coral heads and ledges. With its own species. The sharks aggregate in caves
during daytime, and are sometimes found stacked one atop another like logs. It
appears that the same individuals return to the same cave or crevice by day for
long periods, but preferenceschange periodically and then the individual
relocates. Each shark has a narrow home range of several square kilometers and
may remain in a small area for months or years. Apparently the sharks are not
territorial and share their range with other members of their species and other
sharks without conflict.
The shark usually doesn't react to swimmers or divers unless approached and then
it flees or keeps a distance between itself and the people. When baited, it is
readily attracted to the food source and may approach divers very closely, but it
is rarely aggressive. Divers have been able to hand-feed some individuals.
Danger To Humans:
The shark is regarded as minimally dangerous because of its placid nature and
small teeth. From time to time a shark, excited by spearfishing or bait in the
water, has bitten a diver, and like a domestic cat or dog it will bite if it is