As a part of our commitment to ethical diving and efforts to preserve the underwater world that humbles and amazes us, Wicked Diving has run special shark education trips on our liveaboard trips. Shark education liveaboards are designed to inform our guests about sharks in general, their senses, how they swim, the threats they are facing and what can be done by everyone to help save sharks. Read on to discover the sharks of Komodo and how diving with Wicked helps protect them.
In Komodo National Park we see several different sharks on the majority of our dives! Here’s a little overview of the more common species of sharks of Komodo.
White tip reef sharks
As their name suggests, white tip reef sharks live close to the reef. These are some of the more common sharks of Komodo. During the day they often hide in crevices and rest underneath table corals, particularly young sharks. Amazingly, they do not need to keep on swimming to breath. Instead, they use a technique called buccal pumping, actively pump water over their gills to breath. Although they spend time resting, we often we see them cruising along the reef slope. They have a very slender body and a white tip on the dorsal and caudal fin.
Black tip Reef Sharks
Black tip reef sharks are a bit more stocky and we see them cruising by close to the reef slopes and sandy bottoms. They blend in really well with their surroundings and are more elusive than white tips. Often we see little baby black tips in very shallow water close to the beach. Young black tips spend their early years close to mangroves where they are protected from predators. They have a black tip on the dorsal and caudal fin, are light grayish in color and can reach a maximum length of 2 meters.
Grey Reef Sharks
Of all the sharks of Komodo, Grey Reef sharks are seldom spotted. They tend to dwell in areas current and on deeper slopes. When we do see them at our diving depth, it is often at sites like Castle Rock where the currents are stronger. They tend to travel further than black and white tip reef sharks. Grey reef sharks are impressive sharks, with black edges on their caudal fin and pectoral fins.
Tawny Nurse Sharks and Brown Banded Bamboo Sharks
The tawny nurse shark and the brown banded bamboo sharks are bottom dwelling (benthic) sharks. Their tail that gives them more stability then their pelagic cousins. We see the bamboo shark on a regular basis in Karang Makassar. They can be up to about 1,18m in length, whilst tawny nurse sharks can become just over 3 meters. The bamboo sharks are brown banded when they are young.
All of these sharks feed on bony fish (such as squirrelfish, parrotfish, damselfish and snappers) but also on crustaceans (like crabs, shrimps and lobsters) and cephalopods (like octopus and squid).
They are also all listed as either Near threatened or Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Sharks are often victims of by-catch and sadly, they are targeted mainly for Shark Fin Soup, a delicacy in China. Only 5% of the shark’s body (the fin) is actually used for the soup and they are horrifically left to die, finless and unable to move effectively. Sharks are not only majestic, but also indispensable to the health of the marine environment, which in turn inevitably impacts human health. When shark populations diminish, their prey species becomes over-populated, which of course has a ripple effect through the entire ecosystem. When not enough sharks are predating on smaller fish their population explodes, resulting in an overfeeding on plankton and plankton provides oxygen! Did you know that 80% of the oxygen that we use on land comes from our oceans?
We are passionate about sharing the beauty and grace of sharks with our divers and beyond. We collect data for Shark Savers to get an idea of the volume and types of sharks that we see in the Komodo National Park. You too can help the sharks of Komodo by becoming a SSI Shark Diver and seeing for yourself how much more valuable a live shark is than a shark fin floating in soup. In a broader sense, Wicked Diving employs a code of conduct on all of our trips. Just by joining us, you already help to shift awareness and protect precious shark populations.