Silvertip Shark

Carcharhinus albimarginatus

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This is a powerful apex predator, or a predator which resides at the top of the food chain with few or no natural predators of its own. It is related to the bull shark and blacktip reef shark. At first glance, it resembles a large grey reef shark but has distinctive white markings on the tips of its fins. It has a blunt snout and large eyes. The body is typically a blue-grey with a white belly.

The shark feeds mostly on bony fishes which congregate around reefs, rays and cephalopods. Its mouth is filled with up to fourteen rows of teeth on each jaw. The teeth are triangular in shape with serrated edges that aid the shark in biting into prey animals. Due to its size and aggression, it can easily attack and kill other sharks that stray into its territory. They are even known to attack members of their own species.

Like similar species, silvertips are viviparous or give birth to live young. Females birth up to eleven individuals at a time after gestating for nearly a year, then waiting a year before breeding again. Young sharks receive little to no care from their parents but will stay in safer, shallower waters until mature.

Range and Habitat

The silvertip shark can be found in various unconnected tropical areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They prefer the sheltered waters around islands, continental shelves and coral reefs down to a depth of approximately 2,600 feet (800 m).

Conservation Status

Vulnerable. Commercial markets for the silvertip exist throughout the south Pacific and Asian waters and they are often hunted for their fins for shark fin soup. Their meat, teeth and jaws are sold in mostly Asian markets. Due to their slow reproductive rate and tendency to stay in a defined area, they are highly susceptible to over-harvesting.