Carcharhinus leucas

Carcharhinus leucas ventral head
Carcharhinus leucas upper and lower teeth

Characteristic features:

  • First dorsal fin height up to 3 times height of second
  • Notch on posterior margin of anal fin obtuse (forming a right angle or more)
  • Interdorsal ridge absent
  • Snout very short and broadly rounded; preoral length less than internatial space
  • Upper teeth triangular; edges with broad, heavy serrated cusps
  • Lower teeth narrowly triangular and upright, usually in 12 rows in each side


Dorsal surfaces grey with a faint white stripe on each side. Fins mostly plain in adults. Juveniles with dusky to black fin tips and upper caudal fin with a narrow dark posterior margin. Ventral surfaces almost white.


Maximum size up to ~340 cm TL; birth size 56–81 cm TL.


Cosmopolitan in all tropical and warm temperate seas, estuaries, rivers and lakes.


Capable of tolerating a wide range of salinities from marine to freshwater rivers and lakes to hypersaline lakes. Found from the surface to at least 150 meters depth. Recorded nearly 4,000 km from the sea in the Amazon system; often found in turbid waters.


Diet consists of a wide variety of prey including fish, turtles, birds, dolphins, terrestrial mammals, crocodiles, crustaceans, molluscs and echinoderms, but prefers bony fish, sharks and rays. A very dangerous shark with an extremely aggressive nature, especially in murky waters where it is often found. In clear water it appears less aggressive to humans and so has become popular for dive ecotourism in some areas with good visibility. Length at maturity is at least ~230, and ~220 cm TL for females and males respectively. Reproductive mode is viviparous with yolk-sac placenta with a gestation period lasting between 10–11 months. Females give birth to 1–13 pups in estuaries and river mouths; young remain in reivers systems for up to 5 years.

Indonesian fisheries:

Caught occasionally by shark longline, tangle net and inshore gillnet fisheries. Utilised for its fins (high value in adults), meat, skin, jaws and cartilage.

Similar species:

Carcharhinus amboinensis
Pigeye shark
Carcharhinus ambion
Carcharhinus amboinensis differs in having a higher first dorsal fin relative to second dorsal dorsal fin (vs. lower first dorsal fin relative to second) and an anal fin with a less acute posterior margin forming and angle of more than 90° (vs. more acute, less than 90°).

External links:

The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM