About 19 species of sharks prowl the 26 million square miles of Indian Ocean stalking prey. They travel the ocean, east to Australia and Indonesia, west to Africa, north to Asia and south to the Antarctic. These fierce predators, the most common being blue and silky sharks, devour marine life, such as eels, rays and various fish species that live in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
As Blue As the Sea
Blue sharks (Prionace glauca, Carcharhinidae) make their home in the temperate waters of the Indian Ocean, along with most of the other oceans of the world. This large, slender shark glides through the water with long, deep-blue pectoral fins. Its striking flanks shine a metallic blue, contrasting its white belly. Blue sharks have a lifespan of about 20 years. Males begin mating at about 6 years old and females at 5 years old. Male sharks tend to nip at the females while mating, so the female has thicker skin for protection. Blue sharks' favorite foods include smaller sharks, fish, squid, birds and crustaceans.
Smooth As Silk
Silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis) live in the tropical waters of the world, including the Indian Ocean. The smooth, silky skin of this gray shark is unique among all other sharks. The front dorsal fin has a rounded tip, while the second dorsal fin sits close to the body and has a trailing tip. Black-tipped fins contrast their gray upper bodies and white bellies. Reproduction age for males is from 7 to 9 years old. Females reach reproduction maturity from 6 to 7 years old. Mollusks, crustaceans, tuna, eels and many fish species make up the silky shark’s diet. They hunt in groups, herding prey together and moving them toward the surface of the water for eating. Silky sharks live for about 23 years and grow to a maximum of about 11.5 feet.
The oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) can survive in any tropical ocean and prefers swimming in the open water. Whitetips are one of the most widespread, large sharks, growing to about 8 feet long. Whitetip sharks grow slowly and can live up to 17 years. Their long, white-tipped dorsal and pectoral fins make them easy to identify. Both male and female oceanic whitetip sharks mate at about 5 years old. Their favorite foods are barracuda, dolphin, birds, rays, turtles, crustaceans and fish.
The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) wins the prize for being the largest fish in the sea. The record for the largest whale shark is close to 66 feet long. Its blue-gray, streamlined body has white spots and white stripes in a checked pattern. Despite its huge size, whale sharks are docile and eat plankton, fish and crustaceans. Mating does not begin until the whale sharks reach about 29 feet long. These giant sharks can live up to 60 years.
Karen Curley has more than 18 years experience in health and nutrition, specializing in healthy food choices for families. She received USDA certification in food components, nutrient sources, food groups and infant/child nutrition, and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts. Curley is also an avid gardener, home renovator, Collie breeder, dog groomer and dog trainer.