White Tip Sharks in Montezuma

White tip reef shark in Costa Rica

The White Tip Shark

It is believed that Montezuma and the Tortuga Islands are famous for the abundance of white tipped sharks in their surrounding waters. Cabuya and Tambor Bay have also been named as a couple of places that white tip sharks inhabit almost year round. Near this area however, three main types of reef sharks are found: the white tip reef shark, black tip reef shark and the grey reef shark. The major difference between the white tip shark and the other two is that this species prefers to stay in the deepest water available, near the bottom of the ocean. The other types prefer shallow water and do not delve too deep in the ocean. The grey reef shark actually prefers the outer area of the coral reefs. The white tip reef shark has a small and powerfully built body that makes it one of the predatory fish in the sea. Though compared to the other sharks, it is smaller in size and does not possess the ferocity of sheer mass the other sharks do. The white tip shark moves through the water by manipulating the strong muscles in its sleek body. But the most interesting part of this shark is that it can lie at the bottom of the ocean, perfectly still; only moving it’s gills for proper breathing and respiration. Other requiem sharks do not engage in this behavior and it is specific to the white tip shark only.

Behavior and Localization of the White Tip Shark

The white tip shark generally prefers specific areas in the Montezuma and Tortuga Islands waters. If it selects an area near these places, it rarely leaves its selected home to migrate elsewhere. White tip sharks are protective about their territory and generally prefer to stay in the initial place they selected rather than changing their habitat occasionally. They usually do not move their home unless forced to by some kind of threat. Interestingly, studies focused on the white tip sharks have found that even if they do move to a new area, they prefer it to be somewhere inside the radius of 3-4 km of their previous location. It seems the white tip sharks avoid drastic changes relative to their habitat. Scientists claim that if a shark is undisturbed in its initially chosen location, it may inhabit the area for months and even years! The white tips shark is protective of its homeland but does not have a problem sharing it with other species of its own kind. Photos and videos made at the bottom of the sea have actually shown white tip sharks resting together motionless at the bottom of the ocean. They usually avoid threatening displays of behavior unless given severe provocation. The body of the white tip shark is small framed and very flexible which is how it can manipulate easily through the nooks and crevices of the coral creefs at the bottom of the ocean. This makes it easier for the shark to capture prey while hidden in the coral reefs. If in open spaces, the white tip shark has difficulty securing food. Usually, these sharks focus on smaller fish in the sea along with octopus and crabs.

Video for the White Tip Shark


— Randall, J.E. (1977). “Contribution to the Biology of the Whitetip Reef Shark (Triaenodon obesus)”.Pacific Science 31 (2): 143–164.
— Hobson, E.S. (1963). “Feeding Behavior in Three Species of Sharks”. Pacific Science 17: 171–194.
— Martin, R.A. Coral Reefs: Whitetip Reef Shark. ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research. Retrieved on August 7, 2009.


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