KOTA KINABALU (MALAYSIA) - A group of tourists diving off the tropical isle of Sipadan, Malaysia, managed to capture pictures of the white-tip reef sharks mating. The mating ritual caught on camera is boosting conservationists’ call for the broader Semporna-area to be a declared a shark sanctuary.
For the experts, the pictures debunk views that the sharks were merely passing through the waters off Semporna and reaffirms their view that the area is a breeding ground for many shark species.
The area supposedly had the most diverse marine eco-system that boasted the endangered scalloped hammerhead sharks as one of its attractions, as well as many species of ray fish, such as the graceful manta and eagle rays.The white-tip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus) was commonly seen by divers in Sabah as it inhabits shallow reefs.
The fish is often seen motionless at the bottom during the day due to its ability to pump water over its gills.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature assessed the white-tip reef shark and the grey reef shark as “near threatened”, noting that their numbers were dwindling due to unregulated fishing.
The slow reproductive rate and limited habitat preferences of these species also render the sharks vulnerable to extinction. Dive operators in Semporna have seen a decline in the area of many species of sharks due to increased fishing and the demand for their fins and other products.
“Live sharks are a completely renewable resource to the local economy, as well as vital to the health of the marine eco-system”, they say.
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