Caribbean Reef Sharks

Carcharhinus perezii, commonly referred to as the Caribbean reef shark, is usually found in the tropical waters of the western Atlantic Ocean. It is usually found near the coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea, hence, it is named, the Caribbean reef shark. It has a streamlined body, and is a species of the Requiem sharks. It resembles greatly to its other family members, such as the Dusky shark and the Silky shark. The only difference is that these species have longer rear tips of the second dorsal fins than the Caribbean reef shark. Dusky sharks have a leaner body and larger gill slits than the Caribbean reef shark, while silky sharks have serrated teeth at the base, rather than the cusp as in Caribbean reef sharks. Due to similar morphology, an ichthyologist grouped it with the big nose shark and the Sandbar shark in 1982.

In appearance, a Caribbean reef shark has a short, round snout, large eyes (along with nictitating membranes), and long gill slits. Its low anterior nasal flaps are quite under developed. The upper part of its body is a grayish brown or dark gray color, and the lower part of its body is yellowish white. The sides of a Caribbean reef shark’s body are bronze colored. Its size ranges from 2 to 2.5m, while some species can reach up to 3m. Newborn Caribbean reef sharks are about 70cm in size. Five pairs of gill slits are present on a Caribbean reef shark’s body. The third slit is positioned over the pectoral fin. The shark has a large dorsal fin, and is characterized by a crest present between the two fins. Trailing tips of pectoral, pelvic, anal, and caudal fins have a slightly dusky appearance.

The Caribbean reef shark feeds on Cephalopods, bony fishes and Elasmobranches, such as Eagle rays and Yellow stingrays. The young ones feed on tiny fishes, shrimps, and crabs. The sexual intercourse is done violently which is evident from the wounds on female bodies. Reproduction is viviparous. When the embryos run out of yolk, the yolk sac turns into a placental connection, which becomes a source of nourishment.  The Caribbean reef shark is shy in the presence of divers, sometimes brave, and swims near to them. It is quite safe to humans and does not tend to attack until it is provoked in any way.

By the above facts, it is clear that the Caribbean reef shark is different from the other species of sharks in several ways, including body appearance and life patterns.