Blacktip reef sharkBLR

Carcharhinus melanopterus

Carcharhinus melanopterus ventral head
Carcharhinus melanopterus upper and lower teeth

Characteristic features:

  • First dorsal and lower caudal fins with broad black tips
  • Posterior margin of caudal fin with a distinct, narrow black edge
  • Interdorsal ridge absent
  • Snout short and bluntly rounded; internarial space 0.8–1.1 times preoral snout length
  • Upper teeth narrowly triangular; erect to oblique with coarse serrations at their base


Dorsal surfaces yellowish brown to grey; a distinct pale stripe on each side. First dorsal and ventral caudal fins distinctly black; other fins usually with smaller black tips (second dorsal fin often plain). Ventral surfaces white.


Maximum size up to 180 cm TL, usually less than 150 cm TL; birth size 31–40 cm TL.


Found in tropical Indo-west and central Pacific, from south-eastern Africa to the central Pacific islands.


Found on coral reefs and reef flats, and near reef drop-offs, as well as in mangrove habitats during high tides and occasionally in brackish waters. A shallow dwelling species, found from the surface to only a few meters depth.


Feeds primarily on bony fish, but also crustaceans, cephalopods other molluscs and terrestrial snakes. Length at maturity is at 96–130 and 91–105 cm TL for females and males respectively. Age at maturity is around 8.5 years and 4.2 years for females and males respectively for north-eastern Australian populations. Females give birth to 2–4 pups each November after a 8–9 month gestation for north-eastern Australian populations; gestation longer in other areas (e.g. 16 months for Red Sea populations). This species has a viviparous with yolk-sac placenta reproductive mode. Attains a maximum age of at least 15 years for females and 10 years for males.

Indonesian fisheries:

Caught by inshore longline and gillnet fisheries, and probably adversely affected by dynamite fishing. Utilised for its fins and meat, but of limited value due to its size.

Similar species:

Carcharhinus amblyrhynchoides
Carcharhinus amblyrhynchoides
Carcharhinus amblyrhynchoides differ in having upper teeth with narrow, erect cusps (vs. oblique central cusp and low basal cusplets).

External links:

The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM