White-tipped reef shark- Triaenodon obesus
The white-tipped reef shark is a species of the requiem shark in the family Carcharhinidae and common here in our Costa Rican waters. Usually not growing much bigger than 6ft, they are easily recognised due to the white-tipped dorsal and caudal fins, broad snout, tubular nasal flaps and oval eyes with vertical pupils. Often found in depths of between 8-100ft, these sharks have the ability to pump water over their gills, meaning they do not have to constantly swim to breathe and so can often be found resting, especially on sandy patches, on the bottom.
They may remain in the same area of reef for months/years and hunt at night for bony fish, crustaceans and octopus, using their slim bodies to squeeze into crevices and holes to reach their prey. The females give live birth to 1-6 pups every other year after 10-13 months gestation. Sexual maturity being reached between 8 and 9 yrs they may live up to 25yrs.
White tips are unaggressive but may be curious, divers can often get close to the resting sharks by staying close to the bottom and moving slowly so as not to scare them.
Often seen at quite a few of our dive sites, Classic/the wall, Arco Iris and The point have sandy patches where there tends to be a slightly higher chance of finding them regularly.
They are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List (assessed 2005, published 2009) due to restricted habitat, depth range, small litter size and increasing pressure from unregulated fishing.