The silvertip shark's name, albimarginatus, derives from the Latin words “albi” meaning white and “marginatus” meaning to enclose with a border. And the common name comes from the white tips and borders on the fins. This species often dominates interactions with other sharks, even those that are larger than themselves, and they have been known to attack members of their own species if threatened and often have combat scars on their bodies. There is a potential threat to humans due to large size, abundance around offshore reefs, and tendency to become excited and bold when bait is present. The silvertip shark communicates through visual displays. When threatened, they will display movements that include: lowering the angles of the pectoral and tail fins, stiff and jerky movements, “shivering,” opening of the jaws, and making quick movements away from the potential threat. Their large eyes are able to see in dark, murky waters and they have the ability to see up to 10 times more accurately than humans in clear water. They can sense vibrations in the water, alerting them to potential prey or threats and they have a strong sense of hearing and smell. They're followed by pilot fish and rainbow runner fish, which are known to rub against this species to dislodge skin parasites. They are listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List and their population trend is decreasing. Humans are the largest threat to this species as they are caught and utilized for their high-value fins, meat, skin, teeth, and cartilage. Large piscivorous fish and other sharks are predators of juveniles.
  • Size

    Male reaches sexual maturity around 5.2-5.9 feet (1.6-1.8 m)
  • Diet

    Diet consists of bony fish, rays, cephalopods, small sharks, octopus, squids and crustaceans
  • Range

    Commonly found around offshore islands, coral banks and reefs
  • Habitat

    Lives at depth range of 3.2-2,624.7 feet (1-800 m)

Physical Characteristics

  • Body is long and slender with a broad, rounded snout and distinct large eyes.
  • 12-14 strong, serrated teeth in both the lower and upper jaw.
  • Large pectoral fins that are narrowly rounded or pointed at the tips.
  • Coloration varies between a dark gray, brown-gray or blue-gray dorsal surface with a bronzy sheen that fades into a white ventral surface.
  • Distinguishing feature is the white tips and borders on all fins.
  • Closely resembles the grey reef shark and the whitetip reef shark. These species differ slightly in coloration; the grey reef shark has dark tips on its pectoral fins and the whitetip reef shark only has the white tip on the dorsal fin, not the pectoral fins.
  • Common length between 6-8 feet (1.8-2.4 m).
  • Maximum recorded length is 9.8 feet (2.9 m).
  • Maximum recorded weight is 357.6 pounds (162.2 kg).
  • Female tends to be larger than male.

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists of bony fish, rays, cephalopods, small sharks, octopus, squids, and crustaceans.
  • The silvertip shark is an apex predator, meaning it is at the top of the food chain and has very few natural predators of its own.
  • Has been observed swimming among other feeding sharks and darting into the group to swipe food.
  • Pups feed on small fish.
  • Voracious feeders.

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs inshore over or adjacent to continental and insular shelves.
  • Commonly found around offshore islands, coral banks, and reefs.
  • Lives at depth range of 3.2-2,624.7 feet (1-800 m).
  • Juvenile typically remains close to shore and in shallow water to minimize risk of predation.
  • Found primarily in the western Indian Ocean.
  • Including the Red Sea and eastern African waters surrounding Madagascar, Seychelles, Aldabra Group, Mauritius, and the Chagos Archipelago.
  • Occupies the western Pacific Ocean from southern Japan, northern Australia, and eastern-central Pacific areas ranging from southern Baja, California, and Mexico, to Colombia including Cocos, Galapagos, and Revillagigedo Islands.

Reproduction & Growth

  • Viviparous; the embryos develop within the mother’s uterus and are nourished by yolk sac placenta; female gives birth to live young.
  • Average gestation period is 12 months.
  • May give birth to up to 11 pups per litter; average litter has 5-6 pups.
  • When born, pups are typically 1.6-2.6 feet (0.5-0.8 m).
  • Pups live among shallow reefs and move out into deeper water as their size increases.
  • Mates once a year in the summer months.
  • No parental involvement from male beyond fertilization and no parental involvement from female following birth.
  • Breeding and pupping both occur during the summer months in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Male reaches sexual maturity around 5.2-5.9 feet (1.6-1.8 m).
  • Female reaches sexual maturity around 5.2-6.2 feet (1.6-1.9 m).

Sources

www.fishbase.org

www.iucnredlist.org

www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish

www.animaldiversity.org

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