So, for all ninja shark lovers, how can we tell which shark is who? It’s a little easier with bigger shark species, such as great whites, tiger sharks and great hammerheads. The keen shark lover needs to keep an eye out for identifying features such as size and shape of scars, notches or curls in the dorsal fins, and any other distinctive marks. For example, tiger shark Jitterbug in the Bahamas has a heart shaped face, Emma is a big tiger shark with a curled dorsal fin, and Scylla is a great hammerhead with a distinctive tear in her dorsal fin. Sharks also have their own personalities, so if you’re lucky enough to spend lots of in water time with them, you can start to notice the shy versus forward shark. Bigger sharks tend to have seasonal migrations – so you can look out for your great white buddies in both Guadalupe and Hawaii, for example!
Not So Big Sharks
It’s a little bit more difficult with smaller sharks, such as the scalloped hammerheads, silvertips, lemons, grey reef sharks etc. You can still look for identifying scars and dorsal features, of course. However these sharks tend to be more cautious, and divers don’t always get the time for a super close look at them. Scientists rely on tagging sharks – using internal or external tags, to be able to definitively identify individuals and figure out their movements. The good news with not so big sharks is that they tend to be resident within their home range, so if you dive a site or area repeatedly, you’ve got a good chance of saying hello to a shark you’ve met earlier!
Want to learn more about sharks and sharkie behaviour? Sign up for a Project AWARE Shark Conservation Course!