Thursday, August 4, 2011

Life of Blacktip Shark

Life of Sea | Blacktip Shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) | Blacktip shark can be found in both inshore and offshore waters, but they tend to stay close to the coasts at depths of 30 external link m or less. They are often seen near river mouths, bays, and mangroves, although they do not penetrate far into freshwater.  Blacktip shark is found in tropical and subtropical coastal, shelf, and island waters in the Atlantic, where they migrate seasonally between Brazil and Nova Scotia; the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, throughout the Mediterranean, and along the central West coast of Africa. In the Pacific they range from Southern California to Peru, including the Sea of Cortez, the Gal├ípagos Islands, Hawaii, Tahiti, and other South Pacific Islands, to the northern coast of Australia. In the Indian Ocean they range from South Africa and Madagascar up to the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, throughout India's coast, and east to the coast of China.

Blacktip shark are strong sharks with a moderately long and pointed snout. The first dorsal fin is slightly posterior to the pectoral fins high on the mid section of the body and has a narrow, pointed tip. This species does not have an inter dorsal ridge. They have dark gray or blue to brown on the dorsal side with a white ventral side and a white band across the flank. The pectoral fins, first and second dorsal fins, pelvic fins, and lower caudal lobe are black tipped, although the dark coloring tends to fade with age. The anal fins of the Blacktip sharp do not have black tips, unlike the similar Spinner shark, which often develops black tips on the anal fin as they mature. Blacktip shark gets its name from its distinctive black markings on the tips of its fins. It is also known as Blackfin, Small blacktip, and Spot-fin ground shark.

Blacktip shark feeds on small schooling fishes such as herring, sardines, menhaden, mullet, and anchovies, but also eats catfishes, groupers, jacks, snook, porgies, grunts, croakers, flatfishes, triggerfish, and porcupine fish. They are known to feed on other elasmobranch species such as dogfish, sharpnose sharks, young dusky sharks, skates, and stingrays. Crustaceans and squids are also prey for blacktip sharks. Like the Spinner shark, Blacktip shark have been observed leaping and spinning out of the water, which is likely a feeding behavior. Blacktips attack schools from below at high speed while snapping their jaws to capture prey. The tiger shark preys on young blacktip sharks.

Blacktip sharks in the Caribbean are a popular tourist attraction during shark feeding dives along with other species such as Caribbean reef sharks. Blacktip sharks is fished commercially by longlines off the southeast coast of the US, and caught as bycatch in fixed bottom nets and in shrimp trawls. The flesh is sold for human consumption and used for fish meal, and the fins are sold for shark fin soup in Asian markets, a product that is decimating shark populations worldwide. The skin is also used for leather.

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