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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrata > fishes
Class Elasmobranchii, Infraclass Selachii
Updated Oct 2016

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!

Among the commonly seen sharks on our shores are:

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

Black tipped reef sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus): sometimes encountered when we visit 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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

Shark egg capsule? Washed ashore.
Sentosa, May 08

Baby bamboo shark!
Beting Bronok, Jun 2010
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on her blog

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

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

Sharks on Singapore shores

Photos of Sharks for free download from wildsingapore flickr

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


Cyrene Reef, Jul 12
Photo shared by Russel Low on facebook.

Beting Bemban Besar, Aug 12
Photo shared by Russel Low 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

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