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Blacktip shark mating is a rarely witnessed event. But that is just what happened one dive day in Gorontalo.
The Tell-tale Fin
The Blacktip Reef shark is the most common shark sighted in Indo-Pacific waters. Its scientific name is Carcharhinus melanopterus. Divers can easily identify this shark by its distinctive, black-tipped dorsal fin. Additionally, its anal fin is also black tipped. It can grow to a maximum length of less than two meters. Actually, another shark also has a narrow tip of black on its dorsal fin. However, this other shark has a pale anal fin. It also can grow to over two and a half meters in length. This oceanic blacktip shark is named Carcharhinus limbatus.
The Blacktip reef shark prefers shallow waters close to shore. Divers should look over reef ledges and flat sandy areas. Two dives sites in Gorontalo often have this shark patrolling sandy flats. That is where we witnessed a rare event.
Blacktip Shark Mating
One fine dive day Miguel’s Diving staff and guests watched two Blacktip reef sharks mating. Two guests had their GoPros ready and we created a combined video. Please watch it on our YouTube site.
You may notice that the male bit the female behind her gills. The love bite does not leave a deep wound. It should heal completely within a month or so. Also, notice that there is much thrashing about. At the end of the video, the sharks end up turning up-side-down and falling into a trance.
Tonic Immobility in Sharks
Some species of sharks become motionless and generally unaware of their surroundings when turned up-side-down. This is called tonic immobility. Once up-side-down, the shark will quickly become catatonic. This strange state can last up to fifteen minutes, as long as the shark remains undisturbed. The shark will eventually snap out of its trance and resume normal activities.
Sharks susceptible to tonic immobility include Whitetip and Blacktip reef sharks, as well as Lemon, Silky, Sandbar and Tiger sharks.
Notice in the video that that ecstatic pair of Blacktip sharks flip up-side-down and become catatonic. They fall together down the reef slope to a deep sand flat below.
For your chance to witness rare marine events in Gorontalo, please book your dive trip with us.