Blacktip Reef Shark Click to enlarge image
A Blacktip Reef Shark and divers at Mana Island, Fiji, 2001. Image: David & Leanne Atkinson
© David & Leanne Atkinson

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    melanopterus
    Genus
    Carcharhinus
    Family
    Carcharhinidae
    Order
    Carcharhiniformes
    Class
    Chondrichthyes
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The Blacktip Reef Shark grows to about 1.8 m in length although in Australia it only reaches 1.4 m.

Introduction

The Blacktip Reef Shark gets it's common name from the distinct black tips of the first dorsal fin and lower caudal fin lobes. It is found in shallow marine waters around coral reefs and is not considered dangerous to people due to its small size.



Identification

The Blacktip Reef Shark can be recognised by its colouration. It is yellow-brown to grey above, white below and has a dark stripe running from below the first dorsal fin to above the ventral fin.

The first dorsal fin and lower caudal fin lobes have distinct black tips. The black tip of the dorsal fin is sometimes highlighted by a white band below it. All other fins usually have smaller black tips.

Habitat

It is found in shallow marine waters usually in association with coral reefs.

Distribution

The species occurs throughout the tropical Indo-West and Central Pacific. In Australia it is recorded from the central coast of Western Australia around the tropical north and south to southern Queensland.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.



Danger to humans

It is not considered dangerous to people because of its small size. Watch the video below to see a Blacktip Reef Shark swimming up to divers.



References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
  2. Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 201.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  4. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994 Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO. Pp. 513.
  5. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.