Sea Life

Blacktip Reef Shark Facts & Information Guide

Famous for its unique appearance, the blacktip reef shark is often observed spinning out of the water either to catch prey or just for fun. A member of Chondrichthyes class, the blacktip reef shark is usually found swimming in the shallow waters and several snorkelers have spotted these sharks during their adventures. Let’s dig more into the life of these sharks.

Blacktip Reef Shark Facts & Information Guide

Scientific name: Carcharhinus melanopterus

Taxonomic Classification

Physical Appearance

A blacktip reef shark is a moderately sized shark, having a short but blunt and rounded snout. They have large oval eyes, quite prominent on their face. The tips of their dorsal and pectoral fins are black with a slightly whitish border, while the anal fin is white. The underside of the body is white in color matching the ocean’s bottom, while the upper side of the body is slightly brown in color, which provides it a perfect camouflage in the shallow waters.

Physical appearance of Blacktip Reef Shark

They have narrow teeth among which the upper teeth are erect and serrated while the lower teeth have finely serrated edges. A total of 23-28 teeth and 21-27 teeth are found in the upper and lower jaw, respectively.

Size And Weight

The blacktip reef shark can grow as much as 7 feet in length, but its average length is 5 feet. An average-sized adult blacktip reef shark weighs around 30 pounds.


As the name suggests, these sharks live in shallow reef waters and are commonly found alongside the coastal areas of Japan, Thailand, Northern Australia, South Africa, and New Caledonia. They do not go deeper than 20 m in the waters and prefer warm waters over colder ones.

Habitat of Blacktip Reef Shark


Being a carnivore, blacktip reef sharks consume fish, mollusks, cephalopods, and crustaceans. They attack the school of fish including sardines, surgeonfish, herring, mullet, menhaden, and anchovies. Some reports also claim that they feed on seabirds and sea snakes.

Diet of Blacktip Reef Shark

Reproduction And Lifespan

Unlike most sharks, blacktip reef sharks reproduce via the Viviparous mode of reproduction, in which the young ones develop inside their bodies. After delivering the pups, the females put them in the nurseries in the shallow water, where those pups do not face threats from predators. The mating season of blacktip reef sharks is between November and March. The female keeps the young one inside herself for almost a year, before giving birth.

The average lifespan of the blacktip reef shark is 10- 13 years.

Conservation Status

The threats and dangers posed to the Blacktip reef shark have been causing a decline in its number, thus, the IUCN has placed it on the red list as a Vulnerable species.

Conservation status of Blacktip Reef Shark

Threats And Dangers

Being a small reef shark, the blacktip reef shark does become prey to some of the larger marine animals including a grey reef shark, groupers, tiger sharks, and even some larger members of their own species who also attack them.

Human activities like overfishing are causing a serious decline in the population of the blacktip reef shark, as they are often captured for commercial purposes for their tasty meat, fins, and liver oil.

The habitat destruction is also taking a toll on the juvenile population of the blacktip reef sharks, as the juveniles need a nurturing environment for their survival in a safe space.

Blacktip Reef Shark- Interesting Facts

  • Blacktip reef sharks are aggressive species and do attack humans when provoked or due to mistaken identity.
  • Interestingly, all their fins have black tips except for the anal fin which has a white tip.
  • Blacktip sharks are known for their exceptional olfactory senses, which allow them to smell the flesh of fish in the 10 billion parts of the water.
  • Blacktip reef sharks are very shy by nature, that’s why it is hard to swim with them as they do not like human presence around them.
  • The longest a blacktip reef shark has lived is 15.5 years.

The Final Word

The blacktip reef sharks have blacktips around their pectoral and dorsal fins, are found swimming in shallow waters, and feed on schools of fish. They are not aggressive predators, nor do they attack humans unless provoked. However, human activities are causing a decline in their population, which need to be taken care of.

About the author

Yumna Ahmad

An experienced content writer, photographer, and avid reader amazed by the sea world and its creatures. I am lettin people become fascinated with the ocean planet through my writings.