Reef Sharks in Whitsundays' Shallow Waters
Reef sharks are common in the Whitsundays. The most often seen species is the blacktip reef shark, which is spotted in and around coral reefs. They prefer areas close to the shoreline, often bringing them into contact with humans. Generally they are a very docile species and swim away when they spot people, making them a rare sight and elusive animal.
Whitehaven Beach is perhaps best known for its dazzling white sand, crystal clear waters and perfect photographic opportunities, but is often a good place to see sharks. It's home to both blacktip reef sharks and baby lemon sharks, which use the calm and shallow waters waters as a nursery.
Reef sharks are among the smallest of shark species, growing to a maximum of two metres, and will often be preyed upon by its larger relatives, such as the tiger shark, which is also native to the Whitsundays. The reef shark is an opportunistic feeder, taking small fish, squid, crustaceans, smaller sharks or anything worth scavenging. They have been recorded feeding in groups, herding schools of fish against the shore for easier feeding.
Even though sharks and humans often cross paths in the Whitsundays, they pose little or no threat to their visitors. Any bites that occur are often when a human deliberately provokes a shark, attempting to handle it or pick it up. They have been known to nip if a human steps on them or scares them by getting to close.
Like all sharks, the reef shark is a widely misunderstood creature, and has suffered great brutality at the hands of humanity. Endangered, along with all sharks, reef sharks have seen a dramatic decline in numbers due to overfishing throughout the world, and is now struggling to maintain their existence.
Sharks, including reef sharks can often be seen swimming through the shallow waters around Whitehaven beach, and will often allow visitors to approach quite close to them as they search for food. This provides an ideal attraction to the area, and there are few places in the world where humans can interact so closely with such an interesting animal from the surface.