I prefer its other common name: the Knopp’s shark. But apparently that isn’t as well-known so we’ll stick to the “bignose shark” name.
These sharks, like most Carcharhinus species, love tropical regions. My kind of shark right there — bring on the warmth! Unless it’s Florida warm (I’m talking 100-degree Fahrenheit warm!). Then, no. Speaking of Florida, you can see these sharks there, as well as in Venezuela and the northern parts of South America. They’ve also been spotted around Hawaii, South Africa, Madagascar, the Red Sea, Mexico and India. In other words, not a true cosmopolitan species, but they have a wide distribution.
When describing the bignose shark, you may think to yourself, “Gee that sounds a lot like the night shark (Carcharhinus signatus).” (We featured the night shark in a previous “Eye Spy Tuesday”) And you’re right! They’re very similar! There are a few key differences, however. First, both sharks are rather large (with bignose sharks reaching lengths of up to 3m or 10 ft), but slender (and grey in color) with a long, pointy nose. Bignose sharks have pretty prominent nasal flaps underneath that pointy snout. Both have broad pectoral fins, but it’s the dorsal fins that will really tell these two sharks apart. Bignose sharks don’t have a dorsal fin free rear tip.
Since these sharks are mainly an offshore species, they tend to munch on mackerels, soles and (surprisingly) batfish! Not to mention they also eat other elasmobranchs and cephalopods.
These sharks are viviparous, and baby time (aka birth) is different depending on the location of said shark. For example: if the shark is in the Mediterranean, the birthing time is August/September; if it’s in Madagascar, birthing is September/October. Litters can get up to 11 bouncing bundles of pup love.
Now whether they get to adulthood is another thing altogether. These sharks may be preyed upon by bigger sharks… like the star of Jaws, the great white shark. Or, they’re caught as bycatch by offshore trawlers. In the US, it’s prohibited to capture them in commercial fisheries and in the Caribbean they can be harvested for fish meal or their oil.
The bignose shark is currently listed as “Data Deficient” by the IUCN.
Think the bignose shark really DOES have a big nose or nah?