reef sharks,harmless docile creatures,

For most people who are not so familiar with the ocean environment- mention the word shark and immediately flashes of a giant monster with flesh tearing sharp jagged teeth comes to mind.
Its horrific what the Jaws movie has done to the perception of the unknowing.
These dangerous creatures do exist,but even so ,are not as scary as the general impression seems to be.
Encounters with humans are rare except in controlled conditions(diver in cage and observe their feeding).
 Its not like they are constantly on the prowl ,looking for fresh human meat to jaw on ,as it were.
 Usually they are in deeper waters,nice and cool temperate waters for they are termed oceanic sharks,these sharks arent't very used to warm tropical seas.

Whereas the docile , shy reef sharks, that scuba divers commonly encounter , are the tropical dwellers.
Coral reefs are where the reef sharks thrives. for only in the warmer tropical seas that serves as the sharks natural habitat.
And they are harmless sharks, most times whenever they sense divers approaching , the instinctive response of the critters is that to  swim away to avoid the noisy bubbles from the breathing apparatus  and the scuba tanks weird unfamiliar metal electrical field they detect.

Snorkellers and scuba divers mostly dive in shallow water coral reefs so encounters or sightings of reef sharks are common.

And for the novice diver,sightings can be quite exciting, seeing a real live shark not in an aquarium but swimming close to it in their turf.
 Some get close to freaking out, especially if they haven't been told that the shark is actually more wary of the noisy entity than vice versa.
More often than not it just swims away after few minutes.
In an encounter with a free swimming reef shark,best thing is to move slow and deliberate .Sudden movement may spook the shark and it will just shoot off as fast as it could like a torpedo, divers should just keep their eyes on observing it as they glide along underwater and chances are it will stick around a bit longer circling around the divers checking them out before it decides to move on.

The whitetip reef shark is one of the most common sharks found in shallow tropical and warm temperate water around coral reefs . Snorkelers often encounter these sharks.

Most sharks need to be constantly swimming non stop because they extract oxygen they need from the water into their gills by the flow of the water as they move,other wise they may drown.

But the white tip reef shark is among the few species in the shark family with the ability to to pump water into their
gills by sucking in water so they can breath even when not moving.

As its name suggests, the tips of the shark's first dorsal fin and upper caudal fin are white. The upper body is grey/brownish. Their average length is about 140 to 160 centimetres (55 to 63 in) and the maximum reported length is 2.1 metres (6 ft 11 in).Its head is broad and flat.

The whitetip reef shark feeds on crustaceans and fish

This bottom dwelling shark is nocturnal and is often seen resting on the bottom during the day, or inside a underwater cave. Sometimes in small groups.
It is not aggressive and will generally swim away if disturbed, although it may bite if harassed.
At night it hunts among crevices in the reef.
They reproduce viviparously, ( bringing forth live young that have developed inside the body of the parent.) with one to five pups in a litter, the gestation period being at least five months. The shark's size at birth ranges from 50 centimetres (20 in) to 60 centimetres (24 in). It is estimated that this shark can live for about 25 years and it reaches maturity after about five years.

The black tip reef shark.
One of the most common sharks found in shallow (sometimes as shallow as 30 cm) water around coral reefs of Indo-Pacific waters. The water they swim in is usually between 20 and 27° C (70 to 80ยบ F). Very seldom blacktip reef sharks venture into tropical lakes and rivers far from the ocean

As its name suggests, the tips of the shark's pectoral fin and dorsal fin are black, with a white underside. Its skin is brownish in color on the top half of its body. It has been recorded at up to 2 m (6.5 ft) in length and over 99 lbs (45 kg) in weight. Its snout is blunt and rounded. The grayreef sharklooks similar, and is also common, but is distinguished by its stockier and grey body and its lack of a black tip on the dorsal fin.
Blacktips mainly go after reef fish for food, but they will also feed on rays, crustaceans, cephalopods, and other molluscs.
Like the white tip they
reproduce viviparously with 2 to 4 pups in a litter. Before giving birth, female blacktip reef sharks will incubate their young for 16 months. The pups' length at birth ranges from 33 to 52 cm.
They are lone swimmers not very social, but at times have been seen in small groups. While generally shy, they often are curious about snorkelers and scuba divers. As with most sharks, the body is bent into a sort of "S" shape when the shark feels threatened. Blacktip reef sharks are harmless unless provoked. Incidents generally involve hand feeding or spear fishing, possibly in combination with low visibility.
The blacktip is one of only a few sharks that can jump fully out of the water, a behaviour called breaching . They have also been observed surfacing to look around (spy-hopping).
Blacktip reef sharks are often the bycatch from other fisheries and are often wasted. Their populations are declining, and so are the population of many other shark species. Their fins are used for shark fin soup which is a major factor in the population decline in recent years.
They are distributed in many areas, including Indonesia, India, Arabia, China, Japan, Philippines and various other locations. They are also common in coral reefs.

As its name suggests, the brownbanded bamboo shark has brown bands along its body. The bands fade with age, much like those of the tiger shark. The whitespotted bamboo shark is greyish brown, with small white spots dotted all over its body. It also has a few large dark blotches on its back. And, like all Bamboo sharks, right above its mouth it has two barbels.
The brownbanded bamboo shark is nocturnal, meaning it is active at night, and it hides in the reef some of the time but is known to be out during the day, until night, when it comes out to feed. It eats small fish, crustaceans, and various other small sea animals. Bamboo sharks are small, sluggish bottom-feeders, and will not go after any large fish. They feed on invertebrates mostly. The whitespotted bamboo shark will eat crabs,shrimp and small fish, which it smashes before eating. They have small sharp teeth.

Bamboo sharks are oviparous which means that they lay eggs.that hatch outside the maternal body..
. A whitespotted bamboo shark egg resembles a dogfish's egg, and the embryo,can be seen inside. Bamboo sharks, and often whitespotted bamboo sharks, are used a lot for breeding, because they will usually lay eggs in captivity.

All bamboo sharks are harmless, and pose no threat to humans, while humans, on the other hand, do pose a threat to them. Most encounters between a bamboo shark and a human would probably result worse for the shark.

It can be quite a novelty for the beginner diver or snorkeller to come across sighting of reef sharks as they are swimming along. For the novices ,the natural instinct soon as they see one is off apprehension and danger,because it is a shark.
But the experienced divers know they can very much predict the behaviour of the animal knowing its totally harmless so they will be quite calm and just keep an eye on it,savouring the moment.
Remember, Reef sharks are harmless shy and docile animals to the divers,
So if you are snorkelling or scuba diving at a reef and have a chance encounter with a reef shark,consider yourself fortunate , just stay calm , and observe the creature in its natural environment, its a worthwhile experience.!

Note: It's very very rare for Reef sharks to be aggresive,although there have been documented situations involving snorkellers,and usually there lies a good reason that can explain the cause..
Provocation or defensive  or curious reaction or mistaken identity of the snorkellers swim gear..


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