Blacktip reef shark caught at Pulau Hantu

Date July 1, 2009

Juv. Black tip

Over the weekend, Hantu Blog divers were disappointed but curious at the baby blacktip reef shark that was fished out of the waters along Pulau Hantu’s reefs by a local recreational fisherman.

Blacktip reef sharks Carcharhinus melanopterus, can be found throughout tropical and warm temperate seas. None of the divers on our boat, including myself, have ever seen a blacktip shark while diving in local waters. They are swift in the water, and more camouflaged than they seem when looked at from within the water.

They are of the most common sharks found in shallow (sometimes as shallow as 30 cm) water around Indo-Pacific reefs and are found only in the ocean, not venturing into fresh water bodies such as lakes and rivers. They also prefer warm waters between 20-27degC.

Juv. Black tipJuv. Black tip

According to the fisherman, he caught the young shark whilst fishing off the waterbreaks that form a perimeter around the two Hantu islands. Looking at the first photo (top left), its claspers are clearly visible, indicating it is a young male. Though they are rarely sighted by divers, blacktip reef sharks have been known to get entangled in discarded fishing nets around the Southern islands when the nets get snagged in the coral reef. Because there are no fishing laws or marine protection laws or policies in Singapore, anything caught in the sea is fair game, unregulated and unrecorded.

Blacktip reef sharks prey mainly on reef fish, but they will also feed on rays, crustaceans, cephalopods, and other molluscs.

When they are born, blacktip reef sharks are anywhere between 33-52cm so the individual in the picture probably hasn’t been around in this world for too long. Reproduction is viviparous (this means that the eggs are incubated inside the mother as opposed to laying eggs the way nurse sharks and bamboo sharks do). Before giving birth, female blacktip reef sharks will incubate their young for 16 months. 4-6 pups may be delivered in a litter.

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