A grey reef shark patrols the reef

January 5, 2013

The  visits the World’s Largest Shark Sanctuary. Stay tuned for Monday’s exclusive feature on the shark fin trade and why shark sanctuaries are critical for the survival of this charismatic species. ~ Ed.

Written by Dr. Brian Beck

To state it simply, sharks are interesting. So much so that entire weeks of television are devoted to them. There are a variety of sharks found around the world from the docile wobbegong to the great white shark.

A grey reef shark patrols the reef

A grey reef shark patrols the reef    (c) Dr. Brian Beck

The atolls of Tuamotu, especially Fakarava, are world renowned for their shark diving and this means we have been seeing reef sharks on pretty much every dive. In fact, French Polynesia has the world’s largest shark sanctuary at 4.7 million square kilometers. The three most common species of shark we have been seeing are the white tip, black tip and grey reef shark. These are harmless sharks that can be up to 2 meters in length.

Grey Reef Shark

Grey Reef Shark (c) Serge Andrefouet

These sharks are particularly abundant in the channels running in and out of the atolls. In these passes, the strong currents make the waters particularly rich in nutrients, able to support a high abundance and diversity of reef organisms. The southern pass of Fakarava was one dive where the sharks were particularly abundant with over 100 sharks enjoying the currents.

Nurse Sharks

Two Nurse Sharks wrestle in the sand (c) Serge Andrefouet


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