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the web of life in southern Africa

Carcharhinus brevipinna (Spinner shark)

(Müller & Henle, 1839)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) >.Chondrichthyes > Elasmobranchii > Galeomorphii > Carcharhiniformes > Carcharhinidae

Carcharhinus brevipinna (Spinner shark) [Illustration by Ann Hecht ©]


A slender grey shark with a long narrow pointed snout, small 1st dorsal fin, small narrow-cusped teeth, long gill slits, long upper labial furrows, no interdorsal ridge, and with labial furrows longer than any other gray shark. Often abruptly black tips on most fins, young may lack black tips; underside white.


To 3 m.


East coast, Mossel Bay to Mozambique; Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.



Coastal, close inshore down to 75 m depth.


Common off Natal, ranging to Algoa Bay in summer. Bears up to 20 young. Feeds mostly on pelagic bony fish, including elf, bonito, kingfish, mullet, and sardines, but also longtooth kob, lizardfish, squid and cuttlefish, and small sharks. An active, fast-swimming shark, named for its spinning jumps through schools of prey.

Human Impact

In Natal commonly caught by anglers and in the shark nets.

Text by Leonard J.V. Compagno, David A. Ebert and Malcolm J. Smale