Blacktip reef shark Carcharhinus melanopterus
Blacktip reef sharks are one of the most common sharks found at coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region. They have distinctive black blotches on the tips of their fins and tail and a pale stripe on each flank. In northern Australia they range from Moreton Bay in Queensland to Shark Bay in Western Australia. They prefer shallow water, only a few metres deep and are common in mangrove habitats where they move in and out with the tide. They grow to 140 centimetres and in Australia females give birth to three to four live pups each November after eight months' gestation.
Tagging studies have shown that individuals have a home range of only a few kilometres. They eat fish, crustaceans, cephalopods and molluscs, and a dietary study in northern Australia found they also ate terrestrial snakes. Blacktip reef sharks are not regarded as dangerous because of their small size, but have been known to bite peoples' feet and legs in shallow water. They are rarely taken by gillnet fishing, but are eaten by aborigines as 'buunhdhaarr', in which the liver and flesh are boiled separately then minced and mixed.