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Thank you to our ambassador Amie Williams for putting together October’s Shark of the Month!
Silky Shark (Carcharhinus falciformis) (Bibron, 1839)
Silky sharks get their common name from their relatively smooth skin. This paired with their snout being relatively long and rounded gives them a sleek appearance. While their teeth are relatively small, they are sharply serrated. The eyes are large and circular with the presence of a nictitating membrane (the protective layer). Silky sharks have long and narrow pectoral fins which sit in front of the first dorsal fin. A very small second dorsal and anal fins are also present in this species. The species colouration has metallic appearance, often dark grey or bronze on the dorsal side and white ventrally, where all the fin tips are dark with the exception of the first dorsal. Silky sharks can reach a maximum of 330 cm! Like most sharks, the females grow bigger than the males and reach at least 305 cm at full sexual maturity (FAO, 2016).
Described as a cosmopolitan species, silky sharks can be found in tropical waters circumglobally and are found in both pelagic and coastal waters. Generally, they are found at depths of 200-500 m but can be found both at the shallows and at depths >500 m. These sharks are also often associated with underwater features, e.g. seamounts and deep-water reefs.
Bony fish are the primary food source of silky sharks, their diet frequently consist of tuna, mackerel and other teleost. Other food sources include octopus and squid.
This species is listed as ‘Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The silky shark was also just recently added to Appendix II of CITES in September of the year. This will see tighter regulatory controls for this species!
Unfortunately, this species is thought to be caught both as a target species and as bycatch throughout its distribution (Bonfil et al., 2009) and is often caught in oceanic fisheries. According to Bonfil et al. (2009) “Large numbers of Silky Shark are caught in Mexico, Yemen and Sri Lanka. Bonfil et al (1993) conclude that local stocks of this species cannot support sustained heavy fishing pressure”.
- Tagged: CITES, IUCN Red List, Save our Seas, save sharks, shark conservation, Shark Facts, Shark Week, Silky shark