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the web of life in southern Africa

Carcharhinus obscurus (Dusky shark)

(Lesueur, 1818)

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

Carcharhinus obscurus (Dusky shark) [Illustration by Ann Hecht ]


A large grey to bronzy shark with a broadly rounded snout, triangular saw-edged upper teeth, curved moderate-sized pectoral fins, an interdorsal ridge, and dusky fin tips. Underside white, fins not boldly marked.


To 4.2 m.


East and southwest coast, False Bay to Mozambique; virtually circumtropical.



Shore to 400 m depth, coastal and well offshore, not oceanic.


Bears 3 to 14 young. Pups off Natal, with nursery grounds off Natal and the eastern Cape. Feeds on pelagic and bottom fish including sardines, mackerel, tuna, soles, rockcods, elf, grunters, seabream, cutlassfish, kob, also other sharks (including its own species), skates and rays, cephalopods, gastropods, lobsters, and occasionally mammalian carrion and inedible objects. Follows sardine shoals seasonally up and down the coast.

Human Impact

Potentially dangerous, but not indicted in shark attacks here. Commonly caught by anglers and in the Natal shark nets.

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