home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Rhizoprionodon acutus (Milk shark)

(Rüppell, 1837)

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

Rhizoprionodon acutus (Milk shark) [Illustration by Ann Hecht ©]


A small grey or grey-brown shark with a long narrow snout, big eyes without notches, long labial furrows, small smooth-edged or weakly serrated oblique-cusped teeth, small low 2nd dorsal fin behind larger anal fin, and no interdorsal ridge. Underside white, no fin markings.


Possibly to 1.8 m, but most adults less than 1.1 m.


East coast off Natal and Mozambique; eastern Atlantic, Indian Ocean and western Pacific.



Close inshore to outer shelf, shoreside to 200 m.


Abundant, one of the commonest inshore sharks in the eastern hemisphere tropics. Bears 1 to 8 young. Feeds mostly on small pelagic and bottom-dwelling bony fish, and also squid, octopuses, cuttlefish, crabs, shrimp, and marine snails.


Often caught by shore and skiboat anglers off Natal.

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