Sharks filmed in Florida by Ramon Llaneza. Knowing The True Nature of Sharks. The silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis) It is one of the most abundant sharks in the pelagic zone, and can be found around the world in tropical waters. Highly mobile and migratory, this shark is most often found over the edge of the continental shelf down to 50 m (164 ft). The silky shark has a slender, streamlined body and typically grows to a length of 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in). It can be distinguished from other large requiem sharks by its relatively small first dorsal fin with a curving rear margin, its tiny second dorsal fin with a long free rear tip, and its long, sickle-shaped pectoral fins. It is a deep, metallic bronze-gray above and white below. With prey often scarce in its oceanic environment, the silky shark is a swift, inquisitive, and persistent hunter and has been known to drive them into compacted schools before launching open-mouthed, slashing attacks. This species often trails schools of tuna, a favored prey. Its sense of hearing is extremely acute, allowing it to localize the low-frequency noises generated by other feeding animals, and, by extension, sources of food. The silky shark is viviparous, meaning that the developing embryos are sustained by a placental connection to their mother. Reproduction occurs year-round except in the Gulf of Mexico, where it follows a seasonal cycle. Females give birth to litters of up to 16 pups annually or biennially. The newborn sharks spend their first months in relatively sheltered reef nurseries on the outer continental shelf, growing substantially before moving into the open ocean. The large size and cutting teeth of the silky shark make it potentially dangerous, However, attacks are rare, as few humans enter its oceanic habitat. Silky sharks are valued for their fins, and to a lesser extent their meat, hide, liver oil, and jaws. Because of their abundance, they form a major component of commercial and artisanal shark fisheries in many countries. Their association with tuna results in many sharks being taken as bycatch in tuna fisheries. Although slow-reproducing like most other sharks, the wide distribution and large population size of the silky shark was once thought to buffer the species against these fishing pressures. However, data now suggest that silky shark numbers are declining around the world, which prompted the IUCN to reassess its conservation status from Least Concern to Near Threatened in 2007. The silky shark has a cosmopolitan distribution in marine waters warmer than 23 °C (73 °F). In the Atlantic Ocean, it is found from the U.S. state of Massachusetts to Spain in the north, and from southern Brazil to northern Angola in the south, including the Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. It occurs throughout the Indian Ocean, as far south as Mozambique in the west and Western Australia in the east, including the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. In the Pacific Ocean, the northern extent of its range runs from southern China and Japan to southern Baja California and the Gulf of California, while the southern extent runs from Sydney, Australia, to northern New Zealand to northern Chile.
Primarily an inhabitant of the open ocean, the silky shark is most common from the surface to a depth of 200 m (660 ft), but may dive to 500 m (1,600 ft) or more.
The silky shark is an opportunistic predator, feeding mainly on bony fishes from all levels of the water column, including tuna, mackerel, sardines, mullets, groupers, snappers, mackerel scads, sea chubs, sea catfish, eels, lanternfishes, filefishes, triggerfishes, and porcupinefishes. Good feeding opportunities can draw silky sharks in large numbers; one such feeding aggregation in the Pacific has been documented "herding" a school of small fishes into a compact mass (a bait ball) and trapping it against the surface, whereupon the sharks consumed the entire school. When attacking tightly packed fish, silky sharks charge through the ball and slash open-mouthed, catching the prey fish at the corners of their jaws. Studies have shown that silky sharks are highly sensitive to sound, in particular low-frequency (10–20 Hz), irregular pulses. Experiments in which these sounds were played underwater attracted sharks from hundreds of meters away. Silky sharks likely orient to these sounds because they are similar to the noise generated by feeding animals such as birds or dolphins, thus indicating promising sources of food. Studies have also demonstrated that a silky shark attracted by one sound will quickly withdraw if that sound abruptly changes in amplitude or character; this change need not be a sound produced by a predator to evoke the reaction. The bite force of a 2-m-long silky shark has been measured at 890 newtons (200 lbf).