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...on Aliwal Shoal

Raggie facts

Ragged toothed sharks (Carcharias taurus) are called sand tiger sharks in the USA and grey nurse sharks in Australia.

 raggie dorsal fins are equal in size

Raggies can be recognised by :

- their two dorsal fins - they are of almost equal size - which is unusual in sharks.

- the top lobe of their tail is larger than the bottom lobe.

- the open mouth bearing rows of sharp spikey teeth

- their choice of habitat - reef structures, caves, overhangs, gullies.

Raggies are considered globally "vulnerable" as they are not as commonly found as they used to be.

In South Africa, raggies are found along our east coast from Cape Town all the way to southern Mozambique. They move up from the Cape waters in late winter to early spring, along the coast of KwaZulu Natal, towards Mozambique.

Raggies grow to about 3 metres in length: males - 220-270 cm total length and females 300 - 320cm total length.

Adult males can be recognised by the pair of claspers below their belly - check between the pelvic fins.

Two raggie "pups" are born every two years. The pups are born live and are about 1 metre in length at birth. While in the uterus, these pups eat the younger embryos, and eggs - a phenomenon called adelphophagy.

in Australia

In New South Wales, Australia, raggies are "critically endangered". Between 300 to 500 sharks are estimated to remain in the wild.

Fines of 220 000 Australian dollars can be imposed on anyone harming a raggie.

There are strict fishing and diving restrictions proposed to conserve the Aussie raggies.

Curious raggie

Queries or comments to raggie@posix.co.sz