Though it may be small, its capability goes far beyond its size. The blacknose shark. A member of the incredibly-cool-named requiem shark species, the blacknose grows to a maximum length of 49 inches. That’s about four feet. However, if you came across one in open ocean, four feet of apex-predator would seem considerably intimidating.
Unlike sand tiger, nurse, and other larger sharks, the blacknose is located in a fairly central part of the world. Specifically, the eastern coastline of the United States, Mexico and South America.
Generally, young blacknoses stay in warm, shallow waters. Not only is there appropriately small prey, but this constricted space also provides protection from larger predators. As with many other shark species, it is not rare for cannibalistic behavior to take place, as adults will prey on juveniles. When fully grown they move out to the oceans in waters exceeding 30 feet. The name itself comes from the concentrated, black coloring at the tip of the nose. This spot is most apparent in the juveniles, gently fading as the shark ages.
The jaws may be small compared to larger sharks, but the blacknose still packs in several dozen serrated, incredibly sharp teeth. Matched with its ability to move through water at speed, these sharks specialize in hunting down quick, small fish. In certain cases they have even been known to feed on octopus.
Although traditionally considered an important commercial species, some are beginning to question how critical these sharks actually are for fishing. In fact, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced that the blacknose is being overfished. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has placed the species as near threatened. If the trend continues, the shark will be classified as vulnerable, just as the sand tiger.
However, as is often the case, the main threat to the blacknose comes from accidental capture in large fishing nets. This is a particularly big issue in spots of Mexico where juveniles are routinely caught in shrimp nets. In the U.S. the shark is considered a game fish, targeted by fishermen because it struggles hard for its life when caught on a line. While this may be entertaining for some, it is beginning to diminish the number of blacknose sharks at a growing rate.
To see these sleek sharks in person, visit the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. While there, learn about what we all can do to help ensure this shark continues swim on for millennia to come.