fishes text index | photo index
Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrata > fishes
Class Elasmobranchii, Infraclass Selachii
Updated Oct 2020
if you learn only 3 things about them ...
Sharks can still be found in Singapore waters!
They will not harm humans if they are left alone.
As top predators, they play an important role in the health and balance of the marine ecosystem.

Where seen? Sharks are sometimes seen by divers in our waters, and during intertidal trips to Singapore's southern submerged reefs.

What are sharks? Sharks belong to Infraclass Selachii. And to the Subclass Elasmobranchii which includes the stingrays.

Features: These streamlined predators are torpedo shaped, usually with 8 fins. The skin is rough and sand-papery and have properties that make them efficient swimmers. Sharks breathe through a row of gills behind the eyes. Sharks have teeth, lots of them. Sharks that feed on snails and crustaceans have flattened teeth for crushing, those that hunt fish have needle-like teeth. Only those that feed on larger prey triangular serrated knife-like teeth for cutting. Like rays, the skeleton of sharks are made of flexible cartilage. If you want to know how cartilage feels like, your nose and ears are made of cartilage!

Bamboo shark spotted diving.
Pulau Hantu, Feb 07
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on her blog.

The Bamboo shark is often seen
by divers at Pulau Hantu.
Pulau Hantu, Jun 2011
Photo shared on the Hantu Blog.

Baby bamboo shark!
Beting Bronok, Jun 2010
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on her blog
Among the sharks commonly seen on our shores are:

Bamboo sharks (Family Hemiscylliidae): sometimes seen by divers at Pulau Hantu.

Black tipped reef sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus): sometimes encountered during surveys of the Southern submerged reefs at low tide. These sharks appear to hunt fish in low water, thus staying in the shallows at moderate tides or coming in with the tide.

Records (see below) suggest a wide variety of shark species have been seen in Singapore in the past.

This Black-tipped reef shark was found dead.
Pulau Semakau, May 11

Sharks rushing in with the incoming tide.
Cyrene Reef, Jul 12

Photo shared by Russel Low on facebook.
Sharks in shallow waters: Sharks on our reefy shores often rush in as the tide turns! They've been patiently waiting in deeper waters at low tide, and move in at the first opportunity to hunt for small fishes. They are in such a hurry that their dorsal fins stick out above the shallow water. They don't hunt people, but it's best for us to stay out of the water during the turn of the tide on a reef flat.
Shark babies: In most shark species, baby sharks develop inside the mother who eventually 'gives birth' to live babies. Other sharks may lay eggs in a leathery case attached to a hard surface. When the baby shark emerges, the empty purse-like case may wash ashore. Sharks produce few young which take a longer time to mature compared to other fish. Thus shark populations reproduce slowly and can be seriously affected by overharvesting.

Shark egg capsule? Washed ashore.
Sentosa, Jul 11

Coral cat-shark sheltering under coral rubble during low tide.
Terumbu Bemban, Jul 18
Photo shared by Lisa Lim on facebook.
Status and threats: In Singapore, our sharks are threatened by over fishing by recreational fishermen, trapped in nets or traps. None of the shark species recorded for Singapore, however, are listed as threatened in the latest Red Data Book.

Three dead sharks in front of fishing net.
Pulau Semakau, Aug 13
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Shark trapped in fishing net.
Cyrene, Jul 10

Sharks on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Chek Jawa, Jun 14
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Beting Bronok, Jun 18
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Beting Bronok, Jun 17
Photo shared by Lisa Lim on facebook.

Black tipped reef shark outside the seawall.
Sisters Island, Oct 20
Photo shared by Richard Kuah on facebook.

Black tipped reef shark with the incoming tide.
Cyrene Reef, Aug 12
Photo shared by Jocelyn Sze on her blog

Cyrene Reef, Aug 21
Photo shared by Dayna Cheah on facebook.

Found dead at low tide.
Pulau Semakau South, Oct 20

Photo shared by Vincent Choo on facebook.

Beting Bemban Besar, Aug 12
Photo shared by Russel Low on facebook.

Pulau Biola, Jan 22
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng

Pulau Biola, Jan 22
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Juvenile Bamboo Shark (Chiloscyllium sp.) from Loh Kok Sheng on Vimeo.

Sharks recorded for Singapore
from Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore.
*from Lim, Kelvin K. P. & Jeffrey K. Y. Low, 1998. A Guide to the Common Marine Fishes of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre
**from WORMS
+Other additions (Singapore Biodiversity Records, etc)

  Family Carcharhinidae (Requiem sharks)

Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos (Gray reef shark)
Carcharhinus dussumieri (Whitecheek shark)
Carcharhinus longimanus (Oceanic whitetip shark)
Carcharhinus melanopterus (Blacktip reef shark)
Carcharhinus menisorrah=**Carcharhinus falciformis or Carcharhinus sealei or Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos or Carcharhinus dussumieri
Carcharhinus pleurotaenia=**Carcharhinus amblyrhynchoides
+Carcharhinus sealei
(Blackspot shark)
Carcharhinus sorrah
(Spottail shark)

Galeocerdo cuvier (Tiger shark)

Triaenodon obesus (Whitetip reef shark)

  Family Ginglymostomatidae (Nurse sharks)
  Nebrius concolor=**Nebrius ferrugineus
Nebrius ferrugineus
(Tawny nurse shark)

  Family Hemiscylliidae (Bamboo sharks and longtailed carpetsharks)
  Chiloscyllium punctatum (Brown-banded bamboo shark)

Hemiscyllium griseum=**Chiloscyllium griseum (Grey bamboo shark)
Hemiscyllium indicum=**Chiloscyllium indicum (Slender bamboo shark)
Hemiscyllium plagiosum=**Chiloscyllium plagiosum (White-spotted bamboo shark)

  Family Lamnidae (Mackerel sharks, porbeagles, and white sharks)
  Isurus oxyrinchus (Shortfin mako)

  Family Scyliorhinidae (Cat-sharks)*
  Atelomycterus marmoratus (Coral cat-shark)

  Family Stegostomatidae (Zebra sharks)
  Stegostoma varium=**Stegostoma fasciatum

  • Chim Chee Kong, Lee Yen-ling, Samantha Tong, Teresa Tay & Rene Ong. 16 October 2015. Blacktip reef sharks caught in trammel nets at Lazarus Island. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2015: 158-159
  • Karenne Tun & Kelvin K. P. Lim . 19 June 2015. Brown-banded bamboo shark off Pulau Satumu. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2015: 79
  • Chim Chee Kong & Kelvin K. P. Lim. 21 February 2014. Coral cat-sharks at eastern Johor Straits. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2014: 54
  • Ron K. H. Yeo. 7 February 2014. Blacktip reef sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus) at Semakau Landfill. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2014: 33-34
  • Chim Chee Kong & Kelvin K. P. Lim. 7 February 2014. Blackspot shark at eastern Johor Straits. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2014: 47
  • Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore. National Council on the Environment. 163pp.
  • Lim, S., P. Ng, L. Tan, & W. Y. Chin, 1994. Rhythm of the Sea: The Life and Times of Labrador Beach. Division of Biology, School of Science, Nanyang Technological University & Department of Zoology, the National University of Singapore. 160 pp.
links | references | about | email Ria
Spot errors? Have a question? Want to share your sightings? email Ria I'll be glad to hear from you!
wildfactsheets website©ria tan 2008