Caribbean reef sharks

Caribbean reef shark ( Carcharhinus perezi ) is one of the largest predators in the reef ecosystem, and plays a very important role in it by ensuring the balance in the food chain. This shark mainly inhabits coral reefs in the Caribbean and off the coast of South America. They live in large schools of females, males only show up occasionally and they are much smaller. Average size is 7 ft (2 m) but they can potentially reach almost 10 ft (3 m).

Image

     CARIBBEAN REEF SHARK
     (Carcharhinus perezi)

      • Class: Chondrichthyes
      • Order: Carcharhiniformes
      • Family: Carcharhinidae
      • Genus:
Carcharhinu
      • Species:C. perezi


      MAX SIZE: 10 ft (3mt)
      MAX WEIGH: 150 lbs (70 kg)    
      DEPTH RANGE: 16 - 100 ft (5 - 30mt)

Image

     CARIBBEAN REEF SHARK (Carcharhinus perezi)

      • Class: Chondrichthyes
      • Order: Carcharhiniformes
      • Family: Carcharhinidae
      • Genus:
Carcharhinu
      • Species:C. perezi


      MAX SIZE: 10 ft (3mt)
      MAX WEIGH: 150 lbs (70 kg)    
      DEPTH RANGE: 16 - 100 ft (5 - 30mt)

Image

Distribution
These sharks can be found everywhere in the western tropical waters of the Americas, from North Carolina all the way down to the north to Brazil including Bermuda and the northern Gulf of Mexico, even though they are predominantly abundant in the Caribbean from where they get their name.

Habitat and Food
Caribbean reef sharks live and eat on the reef usually near a drop off anywhere from shallow water to a maximum depth of 100 ft (30 m ), but they can dive up to 1,240 ft (378 m). Their diet is mainly based on eating bony fish, large crustaceans, octopus and squid, but they can occasionally also feed on stingrays and eagle rays. They hunt actively by pursuing their prey, usually chasing them in groups, sometimes driving them into shallow waters to better catch them.

Reproduction
Caribbean Reef sharks are viviparous, which means that the fertilized egg grow inside the mother and is fed through a placenta until the young shark is capable of an independent existence. They have a low reproductive rate based on a biennial mating season cycle with the gestation lasting approximately 12 months, giving birth to three to six pups. During mating season females show deep wounds on their sides, indicating an aggressive mating behaviour. Male in fact bite the female pectoral fins hard in order to hold on to her during reproduction. Caribbean Reef sharks give birth most commonly between February and April or November to December.

Conservation
Accurate studies has estimated 100 million sharks are  killed by humans every year, a number that will inevitably take them on the verge of extinction soon if severe action is not taken. The Caribbean Reef Shark is currently listed as “Near Threatened” on the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red list. Although it is the one of the most familiar sharks for divers to see, it is also one of the least-studied among the requiem sharks, however scientists agree on the fact that this shark plays a dominant role in shaping life on the Caribbean Reef ecosystem. Caribbean reef sharks have always been fished for their meat, liver oil, fishmeal and leather but recently they are considered more valuable as eco tourist attractions, even though shark dives have become popular since the 80's. In many places around the world bait is used during the dive to get them closer to divers, and a considerable portion of the diving industry is driven by the shark dive creating a profitable ecotourism industry, to the point that in some places a single Caribbean reef shark is worth between $13,000 and $40,000 alive against $50–60 killed. 

In 2011 Honduras declared its water a permanent shark sanctuary. 92,665 miles (240,000 square kilometres) of water were placed off limits to commercial shark fishing.

Shark feeding

Despite the controversy about shark feeding, many years of this practice around the world has proven that if done properly shark feeding is not harmful or unhealthy for sharks and it is totally safe for divers.

Image

Divers interaction with sharks creates awareness about sharks and might help in the fight against shark fishing, plus it contributes to generate a profitable ecotourism industry that turns the shark into a much more valuable asset alive than dead. Using a little bait during the dive does not compromise shark eating behaviour, and most of all does not lead sharks associating food with humans making them a danger for divers. A recent study made in 2019 by Mar Alliance about the shark dive in Roatán includes a survey showing that 95 % of divers, interviewed over a 33 day period, felt very safe during the shark dive.

Shark feeding

Despite the controversy about shark feeding, many years of this practice around the world has proven that if done properly shark feeding is not harmful or unhealthy for sharks and it is totally safe for divers. Divers interaction with sharks creates awareness about sharks and might help in the fight against shark fishing, plus it contributes to generate a profitable ecotourism industry that turns the shark into a much more valuable asset alive than dead. Using a little bait during the dive does not compromise shark eating behaviour, and most of all does not lead sharks associating food with humans making them a danger for divers. A recent study made in 2019 by Mar Alliance about the shark dive in Roatán includes a survey showing that 95 % of divers, interviewed over a 33 day period, felt very safe during the shark dive.

Image

Interesting facts about sharks

•  Caribbean reef sharks have the capability to evert their stomach. Basically they vomit their entire stomach in order to clean it up from parasites or indigestible particles.

•  Sharks do not have bones like most fish, their body is made of cartilaginous tissues.

•  Sharks continually shed their teeth. They have multiple rows inside their jaw that are constantly regrown, some species lose up to 35,000 teeth in their lifetime.

•  Sharks are provided with “Ampullae of Lorenzini”. Electroreception like little holes around their head which give them the ability to detect electrostatic fields in the environment. Thanks to this extra sense sharks can hunt even in murky, dark water or find their prey hidden under the sand. (picture below)

Image

•  Sharks Are older than trees. Scientists agree they have been around for more than 450 million years. Trees  appeared on earth 100 million years later. Sharks appears to be the only animal that have survived four of the five mass extinctions.

•  Most sharks need to constantly swim in order to breathe. The water passes through their gills during the swimming. If they stop they would drown. Other sharks are able to pump water through their mouth and over their gills. This method is called buccal pumping and it is used mostly by benthic sharks, and allows them to breathe while at rest on the seafloor

•  Sharks don't have swim bladders. They control their buoyancy using their big pectoral fins and mostly thanks to their huge liver filled with low-density oil. Shark liver can reach up to 30% of its body weight and in some species fill up almost 90% of its body cavity space. Without swim bladders they can't stop swimming and they can't swim backwards like bonefish. 

•  Most sharks have very good eyesight that allows them to see even in dark lighted areas. It is proven they have fantastic night vision, and can see colors.

•  Sharks have a nictitating membrane, a white almost transparent third eyelid that can cover the eye for protection especially during the last very part of the hunting attack.

•  Shark skin is made of the same material of their teeth. Basically little teeth all over their body pointing towards the tail. That makes their skin like sandpaper if you dare to pet them from the tail to the head, while very smooth in the opposite direction, reducing friction from surrounding water and making them hydrodynamic and great swimmers.

•  Sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) has been documented to practice intrauterine cannibalism. Five months into the gestation the strongest embryo actually eats its siblings bodies in order to grow stronger and be already big enough at birth to protect itself from predators.

•  There are approximately 440 known species of shark. The biggest one and completely harmless is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) that can reach 59 ft (18 m) long while the smallest one dwarf lanternshark (Etmopterus perryi) is so small to fit in a human hand, it measures only  7.9 in ( 20 cm )

Interesting facts about sharks

•  Caribbean reef sharks have the capability to evert their stomach. Basically they vomit their entire stomach in order to clean it up from parasites or indigestible particles.

•  Sharks do not have bones like most fish, their body is made of cartilaginous tissues.

•  Sharks continually shed their teeth. They have multiple rows inside their jaw that are constantly regrown, some species lose up to 35,000 teeth in their lifetime.

•  Sharks Are older than trees. Scientists agree they have been around for more than 450 million years. Trees  appeared on earth 100 million years later. Sharks appears to be the only animal that have survived four of the five mass extinctions.

•  Most sharks need to constantly swim in order to breathe. The water passes through their gills during the swimming. If they stop they would drown. Other sharks are able to pump water through their mouth and over their gills. This method is called buccal pumping and it is used mostly by benthic sharks, and allows them to breathe while at rest on the seafloor

•  Sharks don't have swim bladders. They control their buoyancy using their big pectoral fins and mostly thanks to their huge liver filled with low-density oil. Shark liver can reach up to 30% of its body weight and in some species fill up almost 90% of its body cavity space. Without swim bladders they can't stop swimming and they can't swim backwards like bonefish. 

•  Most sharks have very good eyesight that allows them to see even in dark lighted areas. It is proven they have fantastic night vision, and can see colors.

•  Sharks have a nictitating membrane, a white almost transparent third eyelid that can cover the eye for protection especially during the last very part of the hunting attack.

•  Shark skin is made of the same material of their teeth. Basically little teeth all over their body pointing towards the tail. That makes their skin like sandpaper if you dare to pet them from the tail to the head, while very smooth in the opposite direction, reducing friction from surrounding water and making them hydrodynamic and great swimmers.

•  Sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) has been documented to practice intrauterine cannibalism. Five months into the gestation the strongest embryo actually eats its siblings bodies in order to grow stronger and be already big enough at birth to protect itself from predators.

•  There are approximately 440 known species of shark. The biggest one and completely harmless is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) that can reach 59 ft (18 m) long while the smallest one dwarf lanternshark (Etmopterus perryi) is so small to fit in a human hand, it measures only  7.9 in ( 20 cm )

•  Sharks are provided with “Ampullae of Lorenzini”. Electroreception like little holes around their head which give them the ability to detect electrostatic fields in the environment. Thanks to this extra sense sharks can hunt even in murky, dark water or find their prey hidden under the sand. (picture below)

Image

Subscribe to our Newsletter

 

Connect with us

Join us on socials for special offers.

Enjoy spectacular photos and videos and feel free to share your underwater images with us.

Latest News

Local Weather

82.67 ° F
28.15 ° C

Roatan,HN

Clear Sky Humidity: 78% Wind: E at 9.77 km/h
© 2019 BLUE REEF EXPLORERS DIVING CENTER
Roatan Islas de la Bahia

This site uses cookies

This site uses cookies, including third parties, necessary for the operation and useful for the purposes described in the cookie policy. If you want to learn more or opt out of all or some cookies, see the cookie policy. By closing this banner by clicking on the confirmation button, you consent to the use of cookies. Learn more

I understand