BRONZE WHALER or COPPER SHARK – Carcharhinus brachyurus
Identification: Bronze whalers can attain a length of over 3m. The sleek body has a bronze-grey sheen dorsally with an off-white underside and is slightly arched above the gills. The fins are well developed and fin tips can be darker – especially on the lower caudal lobe and anal fin – causing much confusion with identification. The upper lobe of the caudal fin is more than double the size of the lower. Teeth on the upper jaw are pointed, triangular and slightly slanted. The teeth on the lower jaw are narrower, straighter and smoother. Seen underwater, bronze whalers are easily confused with blacktips (C. limbatus), however the pectoral fins are forward from the leading edge of the dorsal which is less prominent in bronze whalers.
Biology: Sexual maturity is reached after about 5 years. Young are born live in litters of up to 30 in number.
Behavior: Primarily found in shallow waters, the bronze whaler favours the cooler, temperate waters of the Cape and large numbers are known to follow the sardine run up the Wild Coast to KwaZulu Natal. Bronze whalers often feed near the bottom, their diet consisting of bony fish, small sharks, skates and squid.