The Blacktip Reef Shark
Carcharhinus melanopterus

Blacktip Reef Shark

The Blacktip Reef Shark is a beautiful animal. I love its markings and it just looks so 'right' in the clear shallow water it inhabits.

These are medium-sized sharks who prefer shallow, warmer waters.

They're active creatures and strong swimmers.

They can be quite skittish and are unlikely to bother you in the water, though an unsuspecting wader may get a little nip out of curiosity.

Pups range from about 35 to 55cm with males growing to about 90 - 100cm and females reaching roughly 95 - 110cm. Larger specimens have been recorded but nothing above 2m.

The dorsal side is a light brownish grey colour. They have a pale stripe on the flank and a bright white underside.

The distinctive black tips, highlighted with white, on the fins are what gives this shark its name. They’re particularly noticeable on the first dorsal fin and the lower lobe of the caudal fin.

The pectoral fins are large, narrow and sickle shaped. The first dorsal fin sits just behind the pectoral fins and is large and high. The second dorsal fin is also relatively large and sits directly above the anal fin. The pelvic fins are sited well back and fairly close to the anal fin. The caudal fin has a longer upper lobe than the lower one.

The teeth are narrow and triangular with cusps. In the male the teeth are slightly more curved than those of the female (though there are easier ways to sex a shark). Both upper and lower teeth are serrated though the serrations are finer on the lower ones.

This is an active predator and eats small bony fish as well as a variety of other invertebrates including cephalopods and crustaceans.

Yolk sac placental viviparous, this shark gives birth to 2 to 4 pups at a time. The gestation period is thought to be about 16 months.

This shark prefers shallow inshore waters in tropical and sub-tropical seas. They're usually found close to the surface, often with the dorsal fin exposed, though it has been recorded at depths of up to 75m.

Blacktip Reef Shark Distribution Map

Blacktip Reef Shark Distribution Ma

Return to Requiem Sharks from Blacktip Reef Shark

Return to World of Sharks


Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Subclass: Elsamobranchii
Order: Carcharhiniformes
Family: Carcharhinidae
Genus: Carcharhinus
Species: melanopterus

Blacktip Reef Shark

Blacktip Reef Shark

Blacktip Reef Shark in the Shallows

Enjoying the shallows

Blacktip Reef Shark Snout

Snout and mouth

Recent Articles

  1. Thresher Sharks

    Aug 27, 14 10:51 AM

    Thresher sharks are unmistakable with that huge upper lobe on the caudal fin. Let's find out more about them.

    Read More

  2. Sharkwater

    Aug 14, 14 12:42 PM

    Sharkwater is a documentary by Rob Stewart highlighting the plight of the sharks in our oceans.

    Read More

  3. Natural Cleaners

    Aug 13, 14 08:57 AM

    Natural cleaners and homemade skincare products are not only better for the environment, they're better for you and your family.

    Read More