Identification: Maybe the most adored sharks in South Africa are ragged tooth sharks. They can grow to 3.2 meters and 300 kg, and people call them “raggies” in affection. The body of ragged tooth sharks is fat, dark brown to olive-grey, and has a pale underside; the numerous dark spots become less prominent as they age. The ragged tooth fish have thick, rounded fins. The first dorsal fin is larger than the second dorsal fin and is located well behind the pectorals. As somewhat slow swimmers, ragged tooth sharks lack a developed lower caudal lobe. The ragged tooth overbite is made up of many long, pointed, awl-shaped teeth that are better for grabbing than for cutting. The forehead slopes sharply down to a pointed snout and lips.
Biology: Females can lay up to 20,000 eggs, which are kept in the uterus. Like all shark species, the massive ventral claspers that are used to fertilize females make it simple to identify the males. Females with seasonal scars on them suggest that mating can be a violent process. The first embryos to develop inside the uterus eat their own egg packages over the nine-month gestation period. The remaining embryos and any unfertilized eggs are then consumed, leaving only two live juveniles to emerge from each branch of the uterus as live young. The young are subsequently left to fend for themselves in the open ocean, frequently entering estuaries to avoid predators after such ferocious inter-uterine natural selection.
Behaviour: During the winter, these sharks travel from the Eastern Cape to KwaZulu Natal’s milder waters to breed. At Protea Banks, Aliwal Shoal, and Sodwana Bay’s Quartermile reef, they assemble in enormous numbers and are virtually always a draw for divers. Despite their intimidating size and appearance, ragged tooth shark attacks on people have never resulted in fatalities. Yet, they are undoubtedly capable of seriously hurting swimmers and divers if attacked or tormented.