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the web of life in southern Africa

Carcharhinus melanopterus (Blacktip reef shark)

(Quoy & Gaimard, 1824)

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

Carcharhinus melanopterus (Blacktip reef shark) [Illustration by Ann Hecht ]


A small brownish-grey shark with a short bluntly rounded snout, oval eyes, narrow-cusped teeth, no interdorsal ridge, a large 2nd dorsal fin, and abruptly black fin tips, highlighted by white. Underside white.


To about 2 m TL.


East coast, kwaZulu and Mozambique; Indian Ocean and west-central Pacific.



Inshore, frequents coral reefs from shallow lagoons and the surface down to 30 m.


Bears 2 to 4 young. Feeds on small sharks, fish and octopuses.

Human Impact

Occasionally attacks the feet of people wading on reefs, but not aggressive to swimmers and divers. Taken by line in shallow waters.

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