Creature Feature: Bronze Whaler

Bronze-whaler-head-detail David Fleetham Arkive

Today’s featured creature is a neat shark that you might not have heard of before. The Bronze Whaler Shark (Carcharhinus brachyurus) is found worldwide in warm, temperate, and subtropical waters. Although this species is found worldwide and are considered to be relatively common, their populations numbers are often misreported. Researched chalk this up to a case of mistaken identity. Bronze Whalers are frequently misidentified as Dusky Sharks (C. obscurus). Though they are very similar in appearance, there are a few subtle features that can help to differentiate between these two species. One distinction to look out for is the finely serrated, and slanted upper teeth of the Dusky Shark. In case you don’t want to get close enough to a shark to examine the teeth (understandable!) the Dusky Shark is Bronze-whaler-predating-sardine-baitball Doug Perrine Arkivealso different from the Bronze Whaler in its lack of any distinctive markings on the body as well as the lack of a dorsal ridge. To learn more about Dusky Sharks click here.

The Bronze Whaler Shark typically inhabits shallow waters like those found in estuaries. The maximum depth at which these sharks have been recorded is 328 feet, though they could possibly be deeper. While swimming around as individuals or in larger aggregating groups, they will feed on squid, octopus, fish like sardines, and even rays.

This species is considered Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. These sharks are usually caught in long lines, and gill nets as bycatch – in some areas, they are even fished specifically for their meat. Bronze Whaler Shark nurseries can be highly influenced by coastal development and run-off pollution. Like with most young animals, their growth and development can be impacted by disturbances to their habitats and dangerous pollution, which is why it is always important for us to do our parts to reduce our waste and our footprint as much as we can!

References:
Edited by KC O’Shea
Photography: David Fleetham and Doug Perrine courtesy of ARKIVE 
Duffy, C. & Gordon, I. (SSG Australia & Oceania Regional Workshop, March 2003) 2003.Carcharhinus brachyurus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 25 August 2015
http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/gallery/Descript/narrowtoothshark/narrowtoothshark.html

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