Blacktip Reef Shark

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Blacktip Reef Shark
Conservation status: Secure
Missing image

Blacktip Reef Shark
Scientific classification
Species:C. melanopterus
Binomial name
Carcharhinus melanopterus
(Quoy & Gaimard, 1824)

The Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) is a shark of tropical and warm temperate seas. (It is often confused with the Blacktip Shark, which is not the same.)



One of the most common sharks found in shallow (sometimes as shallow as 30cm) water around coral reefs of Indo-Pacific waters. The water they swim in is usually  ?70-?80 fahrenheit. Blacktip Reef Sharks do not venture into tropical lakes and rivers far from the ocean.


As its name suggests, the tips of the shark's pectoral fins and dorsal fin are black, with a white underside. However, their skin is a bluish-gray color on the top-half of their bodies. It has been recorded at up to 6 ft in length. Its snout is blunt and rounded. The Gray Reef Shark looks similar, and also common, but is distinguished by the gray top-half of its body and having no black tips. Blacktip Reef Sharks are not considered a real threat because they are usually small.


A Blacktip Reef Shark's diet consists mainly of reef fish, but they will also feed on sturgeon fish and mullet. It has occasionally attacked humans, although most attacks are thought to be cases of mistaken identity when waders are splashing in the shallows.

Reproduction, behavior, and interaction with humans

Reproduction is viviparous, with 2-4 pups in a litter. Before giving birth, female blacktip reef sharks will incubate their young for 16 months. The shark's size at birth ranges from 33-52 cm.

This species is not considered social but has been seen in small groups of sharks. Like Oceanic Whitetip Sharks, they are often curious about human activity in water, especially by scuba divers and snorklers because of splashing in the water. As with most sharks, the body is bent into a sort of "S" shape when the shark feels threatened. Blacktip Reef Sharks haven bitten the ankles of snorklers especially on shallow reefs and have been known to become aggressive towards Spear Fishers, but are still not considered dangerous.

Population decline

Blacktip Reef Sharks are often the bycatch from other fisheries and are often caught and wasted. The Blacktip populations are declining, and so are the population of many other shark species. These sharks are used for Shark fin soup, in which a shark's fin is cut off and the rest of the shark is thrown into the water to die. This is done by the thousands, which may be a big factor in why the population is declining. The numbers of Blacktip Reef Sharks have declined in recent years.

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