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Requiem sharks

(Carcharhinidae)

Thick-arm Jellyfish Zebra Sharks

Requiem Sharks are migratory, live-bearing sharks of warm seas (sometimes of brackish or fresh water) and include the Blacktip Reef Shark which is found around both the Bida Islands and Koh Haa Islands.

The waters around Koh Lanta are home to several species of Requiem Shark. In addition to the commonly encountered Blacktip Reef Shark, other species of Requiem Shark known to inhabit the waters around Koh Lanta, but very rarely seen, are the Nurse Shark, Grey Reef Shark, Bull Shark and Grey Bamboo Shark.

1 species found on this page.

Blacktip Reef Shark

Carcharhinus melanopterus

The Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) is easily identified by the prominent black tips on its fins (especially on the first dorsal fin and its tail fin). The black tips are highlighted by lighter-colored borders, which are especially noticeable on the first dorsal fin and lower tail fin.

The Blacktip Reef Shark has a short, wide, rounded snout and slightly large, oval eyes and saw-like teeth. Its white belly and dark back allow it to camouflage with the darker seafloor and the brighter ocean surface.

Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) @ Koh Bida

Carcharhinus melanopterus @ Koh Bida

The Blacktip Reef Shark prefers swimming in shallow waters just a few meters deep, and most Blacktip Reef Sharks are found over reef ledges and sandy flats. Blacktip Reef Sharks have extremely small home ranges and exhibit strong site attachment, remaining within the same local area for up to several years at a time.

Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) @ Koh Bida

Blacktip Reef Shark @ Koh Bida

Blacktip Reef Sharks are active predators of small bony fishes, including Mullet, Groupers, Jacks, Wrasses, Surgeonfish, etc. Their diet also includes Cephalopods such as squid, octopus and cuttlefish, and crustaceans such as Mantis Shrimp. Blacktip Reef Sharks have sometimes been observed hunting cooperatively by 'herding' small schools of fish.

Females give birth to two to five young, and newborn sharks are usually found in shallower water than adults, possibly roaming in large groups, to avoid being eaten by groupers and other sharks.

Blacktip Reef Sharks reach maturity at an average age of about 4 years old for males and 7 years old for females and can live to 13 years of age, sometimes longer. These sharks may typically reach 1.5 - 1.6 m, though on rare occasions, individuals may reach up to 1.8 m. Blacktip Reef Sharks show high capacity for wound healing and recovery following injury.

Timid and skittish, the Blacktip Reef Shark is difficult to approach and seldom poses a danger to humans unless roused by food. People wading through shallow water are however at risk of having their legs bitten by mistake, though this does not usually result in serious injury.

Interestingly, the Blacktip Reef Shark can fully jump out of the water, one of the few sharks that can display this behaviour.

Find Out More: Marine Life References and Further Information

Diving with Requiem sharks

Spot Requiem sharks around Koh Lanta on one of our high season dive and snorkel trips.

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