Diving with Bamboo Sharks
A couple of months ago, I was in the Persian Gulf for diving with a very special and shy shark species. The first day we went to their habitat, we left Abu Dhabi beginning afternoon, on a speedboat and we navigate almost for two hours into the Gulf waters. About five minutes after descending for our first dive, we found the first one at a depth of 8m.
But what makes these Bamboo Sharks so special? They are small, they are elegant, and their skin is of a rare golden colour. They are the Arabian Carpetsharks, also known, in the Arabian Sea Region, as Arabian Bamboo Sharks, Chiloscyllium arabicum.
From their biology, it is known they birth with aproximately 10 cm lenght, and that they mature between 45 and 55cm. Arabian Bamboo Sharks are oviparous that lay up to four egg-cases on coral reefs, with hatching after 70 to 80 days. They feed on squid (Loliginidae), shelled molluscs (Gastropoda), crustaceans, and snake eels (Ophichthidae).
When diving we can found them from mangrove estuaries, to coral reefs, coral lagoons and rocky shores. Although, to some extend, it is taken as bycatch mostly in trawls and stake nets; it is usually discarded at sea.
According with the IUCN Red List, this shark species is assessed as NT (Near Threatened), because they are at risk of losing their coral reef habitats in some parts of the Gulf.
Very few people have been diving with this shark species up to the present. That's perhaps another of the aspects that makes this species so special. And, in face of continuing threats, it is for sure an example of a shark species who genuinely deserve the creation of specific new Marine Protected Areas in the Persian Gulf. Before it's too late, please!