[singlepic id=231 w=320 h=240 float=left]Recently we have seen a population of sharks return to one of Koh Tao’s premiere dive sites Chumphon Pinnacle. Being over 2 years since any sharks had taken up residency at Chumphon Pinnacle it is currently making for some fantastic diving thrilling divers of all levels from open water courses to experienced instructors. There are a lot of questions about these sharks, how large is the population? Why did they return now after 2 years? How long will they stay for this time? But the biggest of the questions is what type of shark are they?

The big debate is Bull Sharks or Grey Reef Sharks? What would seem like a pretty easy task is in fact quite a hard identification both sharks come from the family of sharks called requiem/whaler sharks (Carcharhinidae Family) and share the same genius Carcharhinus. This means that both sharks share very similar body structure including round eyes and pectoral fins located behind the 5 gill slots. This shark basically fits the classic image of what people imagine when they think shark.

The main issue with identifying between the two is a juvenile – medium sized bull shark may appear similar to a large grey reef.

A grey reef shark is a medium to stout whaler shark while a bull shark is a medium to large stocky whaler shark but it’s not uncommon for a medium bull shark to have a similar size to a fully grown grey reef shark.

Grey reef sharks also have a distinct black margin on the tail fin and bull sharks have a duskier margin though again a younger bull shark may have a blacker than dusky margin.

There are fortunately some good tell tales a bull sharks first dorsal fin is only 3 times larger that it’s second dorsal fin and originates in line with the arm pit of the pectoral fins while a grey reef sharks first dorsal fin is 4 times larger than it’s second dorsal fin and originates at the free rear tip of the pectoral fins. A bull shark also lacks an inter dorsal ridge while a grey reef shark can have a weak inter dorsal ridge.

The last problem with the debate is how similar the whaler shark family are. For all anyone on Koh Tao knows about them at the moment they could be juvenile bronze whalers or another type of whaler.

So while the debate rages on about the type of sharks why not come and see them for yourself  with one of our fantastic Chumphon Pinnacle fun diver trip or as part of your advanced course


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