Of the 40 species of sharks found in Hawai‘i, the blacktip reef shark is amongst the most common due to the areas it inhabits. The blacktip reef shark prefers shallow, inshore areas where it is less vulnerable to larger species of sharks in the open ocean.
The blacktip reef shark is easily identified by the prominent blacktips on its fins. In Hawai‘i, blacktip reef sharks will reach an average of 5.5 feet in length.
Females will reach sexual maturity at about 3.2 feet in length and males mature at about 3 feet. Blacktip reef sharks have live birth with a gestation period of up to 14 months. In Hawai‘i, pupping season is July to September typically having litters of 2-5 pups.
Like all sharks, the blacktip reef shark has exceptional sensory systems. From there keen sense of smell to having the ability to see in low light condition, these adaptation have made them prestige at tracking down there prey. Sharks also have an additional sixth sense where they can sense electromagnetic fields in the water. The ampullae of Lorenzini, located in the snout region, enable a shark to detect its prey without physically seeing it.
Typically a solitary animal, juvenile blacktip reef sharks will commonly conjugate in shallow regions during high tide. Vulnerable to larger predators, they will reside in shallower areas until larger in size. Blacktip reef sharks tend to be more active during dawn and dusk, but like most sharks they are opportunistic feeders. Their diet consists of crustaceans, squid, octopus, and bony fish.
Despite sharks being portrayed as notorious aggressive animals, very few incidents have involved blacktip reef sharks, none being fatal. Still the importance of an apex predator is vital to a balanced and healthy ecosystem. Unfortunately, this species is very susceptible to reef gill netting. And sharks all around continue to be threatened by fishing pressure resulting in a decrease in many shark populations.
*Due to the constant rotation of animals back to the ocean, the presence of any specific animal cannot be guaranteed.