Brown Banded Bamboo Sharks in Pattaya
One of the Shark species that is native to the Gulf of Thailand is the Brown Banded Bamboo Shark. This shark species only grows to about 1 meter in length and it is not dangerous to humans, but like many other marine creatures it may try to bite you if it is harassed. The Conservation Status for The Brown Banded Bamboo Shark is ‘Near Threatened’ which means that the population of the species is decreasing.
They generally live around shallow sandy reef areas in South East Asia. They are native to the Gulf of Thailand, across South East Asia, Japan, and Northern Australia. These Nocturnal sharks are light-sensitive and can be found hiding between rocks and crevices or under coral formations during the day time. Brown Banded Bamboo Sharks can occasionally be located in rock pools at low tide and have even been known to survive out of the water for several hours.
The Brown Banded Bamboo Shark lays egg sacs that resemble small leathery pouches sometimes called a ‘Mermaid’s Purse’ The outer lining of the egg sac is coated in a sticky substance that helps to attach itself to the sea bed. The shark embryo will begin to eat the surrounding yolk inside the case. Over time the case will begin to crack which will let oxygenated seawater seep into the case. Eventually, the baby shark will become strong enough to force its way out and swim away.
The Sharks tend to eat every few days and generally consume small fish, shrimps, and crabs. Normally they do not grow much more than 1 meter in length so they are much too small to be a threat to Humans.
The Juvenile Bamboo sharks are easily identified by their distinctive dark brown and cream coloured bands. As the sharks mature, their coloured bands will gradually merge together and when they become fully grown they will look like regular Brown/Grey coloured sharks. The Brown Banded Bamboo Sharks can have a lifespan of around 20 years or more.
Threats. Humans are the biggest threat to this shark species. Brown Banded Bamboo sharks were often seen by scuba divers around coral reefs in The Gulf of Thailand. Nowadays the sightings are less frequent mainly because of overfishing during the past 50 years or so.
Many sharks are caught as bycatch and sold to the aquarium trade although this is not considered a major problem as the sharks will still reproduce in a fish tank.
Bamboo sharks can be purchased in markets around South East Asia. Adults and Juvenile sharks can be found for sale at some of these markets either for human consumption or for aquariums.
Shark Release Projects.
Occasionally, Scuba Divers will purchase sharks from Aquarium fish Markets for the purpose of releasing them back into the ocean. Transporting Brown Banded Bamboo Sharks back into the ocean can become stressful for a fully grown shark, whereas the juveniles hardly move around at all and are easy to manage.
The juvenile sharks can be purchased at some Thai markets for just a few dollars and can then be released back onto a coral reef during a shallow water scuba dive. Shark release programs have been criticized for the fact that it encourages fishermen to catch more of them.
Call it a shark release or a shark rescue, either way, it is a good education exercise for all of the people on the dive boat. One way or another a near-threatened shark species would have a better chance of survival in its natural habitat rather than in somebody’s fish tank.