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Grey Reef Shark | Maldives Marine Life
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Maldives Marine Life

The grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) is a species of the requiem shark.  It is one of the most common reef sharks in the Indo-Pacific.  Mainly because they tend to actively expel most other shark species from favoured habitats; which are of course the coral reefs.

Grey Reef Sharks are agile and fast swimming sharks, covering about 6 meters in a third of a second, who dominate many other shark species on the reef despite their moderate size.   They are also active all day but tend to be more so in the night time when they go hunting for food.


Grey Reef Shark

Grey Reef Shark Habitat

The grey reef shark is most often seen in shallow water near the drop-offs of coral reefs, in atoll passes or shallow lagoons.  They tend to have a home range on a specific area on the reef to which they return constantly.

The grey reef shark is not known for being territorial, but actually quite social with members of their own species.  This tends to be basically during the day when they form groups from 5 to 20 individuals only to disperse during the night time.

Grey Reef Shark Appearance

The grey reef shark has a typical reef shark shape with a round snout, large eyes and large fins.   Their maximum size is about 2 meters long yet most of them are just slightly smaller making them a medium to large size shark.

They can be distinguished from similar species by their plain or white tipped dorsal fin and the dark tips on the other fins; like the pectoral fins, the second dorsal fins, the anal fin and the pelvic fin. Grey reef sharks also have a grey upper body.



Grey Reef Sharks



Grey Reef Shark Diet

Grey Reef Sharks are fast-swimming, agile predators that feed primarily on bony fishes that dwell in the bottom of the reef such as Eels, Flatheads, Groupers, Flatfish and Triggerfish. They also feed on Squid, Octopus, Crabs and Lobsters.

Grey Reef Shark Behavior towards Scuba Divers

The grey reef shark is often very curious about scuba divers especially when they enter the water for the first time.  The might even approach quite closely yet they will lose interest on repeated dives.  The shark is not especially dangerous on the reef and tends to be more so if approached in the open water and in the presence of food.  However, they don’t really pose a threat to humans as long as they let them be and don’t necessarily disturb them by pursuing or cornering them.

Grey Reef Shark Reproduction

The grey reef shark has a gestation period that lasts about a year (12 months) and they usually give birth from one to six sharks every two years; which is a really slow reproductive rate.  When the Grey Reef Shark is born it is usually between 45 and 60 cm in length. Male grey reef sharks mature at 130 to 145cm, slightly larger than the females, who reach maturity between 120 to 135cm.  This tends to happen when they are 7 years old.  Their life expectancy is at least 25 years.

Threats to Grey Reef Sharks

The grey reef shark has been assessed by the World Conservation Union as a Near Threatened species which means that it could become a threatened species in the near future. This happens mostly because the shark is taken by fishermen and used for various products such as shark fin soup or fishmeal.

Another threat to the grey reef shark is the continuing degradation of coral reefs due to unsustainable human development. There is evidence of substantial declines in some populations; one possible solution for the conservation of this species is ecotourism.  Because they are not necessarily dangerous to human beings, scuba divers love to watch them at shark watching venues in diving destinations like the islands of the Maldives.