Carcharhinus perezi


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Carcharhinus perezi
Species Authority: (Poey, 1876)
Common Name/s:
English Caribbean Reef Shark
French Requin De Recif
Spanish Cabeza Dura, Tiburón Coralino, Tiburón Piedrero
Carcharhinus springeri Sadowsky & Amorim 1977
Taxonomic Notes: Often misspelled as C. perezii. Carcharhinus springeri Sadowsky & Amorim 1977 is considered a synonym (Soto 2001).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2006
Date Assessed: 2006-01-31
Assessor/s: Rosa, R.S., Mancini, P., Caldas, J.P. & Graham, R.T.
Reviewer/s: Cavanagh, R.D., Kyne, P.M., Stevens, J., Dudley, S. & Pollard, D. (Shark Red List Authority) & Pogonoski, J.
Carcharhinus perezi is a large (to 295 cm TL), reef-dwelling shark found in the Western Atlantic from North Carolina (USA), throughout the Caribbean (where it is the most common reef shark) south to Brazil. Despite its widespread distribution and apparent abundance in some areas, this is a large, inshore shark with low productivity (biennial reproductive cycle with gestation ~1 year and litters of 3 to 6) taken as bycatch in artisanal and commercial fisheries throughout its range, together with demand for trade in its meat and fins. Little data are available, but in some parts of its range intense inshore fisheries exist and there is strong evidence indicating declines, e.g. off Belize and Cuba, together with the continued exploitation of this species in some marine reserves due to lack of enforcement. However, this species is protected in some areas, (e.g., Florida and Bahamas where it is a major attraction to the ecotourism diving industry). Although further information on interactions with fisheries is required before its status can be more accurately determined, at the present time this species is assessed as Near Threatened and may well be shown to meet the criteria for Vulnerable in the future, based on overall population declines.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Caribbean reef sharks range throughout the tropical western Atlantic and Caribbean from North Carolina to Brazil and are the most common reef shark in the Caribbean. They are found near reefs in southern Florida, however surveys using longline gear off the east coast of Florida reveal that C. perezi are extremely rare north of the Florida Keys (Florida Museum of Natural History).

In Belize, recorded throughout the Belize Barrier Reef including the marine reserves of Half Moon Caye and Blue Hole (Lighthouse Reef Atoll) (Graham et al. in prep), Gladden Spit (Graham and Burgess 2004) and Glover?s Reef Atoll (Pikitch et al. submitted). Neonate, juvenile and adult reef sharks are found at several sites throughout the Barrier Reef (Glover?s Reef Atoll, Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Gladden Spit).

In Cuba, recorded in the Jardines de la Reina Archipelago and marine reserve (Graham and Pina 2004). Neonate, juvenile and adult reef sharks are commonly encountered in the Jardines de la Reina Archipelago. All sites studied in Belize and Cuba are partially or entirely encompassed in marine protected areas. However only Jardines de la Reina bans shark fishing within its borders.

In Venezuela it is one of the most frequent and abundant shark species at oceanic islands such as Los Roques (Cervigón and Alcalá 1999). It is also one of the most abundant sharks around the Bahamas and the Antilles.

In Colombia, recorded from Rosario islands, Tayrona park, La Guajira and San Andrés Archipelago (Acero and Santos-Martínez 1992, Caldas 2002, Rey and Acero in press).

In Brazil, recorded from the States of Amapá, Pará, Maranhão, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Bahia, Espírito Santo, Paraná and Santa Catarina, and from the oceanic islands of Atol das Rocas, Fernando de Noronha and Trindade, and from the reef formations of Parcel Manuel Luiz and Abrolhos (Lessa et al. 1999, Sampaio et al. 2000, Garla and Amorim 2000, Rocha and Rosa 2001, Soto 2001). This species is protected at the Atol das Rocas Biological Reserve, at Fernando de Noronha and Abrolhos national marine parks, and at the Parcel Manuel Luiz state marine park.

Glover?s Reef (Belize), Gladden Spit (Belize), Jardines de la Reina (Cuba), Atol das Rocas (Brazil) and Fernando de Noronha (Brazil) archipelagos all appear to encompass breeding, pupping and nursery grounds, based on catches of neonate, juvenile and adult sharks. Parcel Manoel Luiz, Abrolhos and Trindade are possibly other nursery areas in Brazil (Garla et al., in prep).
Antigua and Barbuda; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Bermuda; Brazil (Alagoas, Amapá, Bahia, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Maranhão, Pará, Paraíba, Paraná, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Santa Catarina, São Paulo, Sergipe); Colombia; Costa Rica; Cuba; Dominica; Dominican Republic; French Guiana; Grenada; Guatemala; Guyana; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Mexico (Campeche, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Yucatán); Nicaragua; Panama; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; United States (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas); Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – northwest; Atlantic – southwest; Atlantic – western central
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Population studies are underway using tag and recapture methods at three sites in Belize: Glover?s Reef Atoll (Pikitch et al. 2001, Pikitch et al. submitted), Lighthouse Reef (Graham et al. in prep.) and Gladden Spit (Graham and Burgess 2004) as well as the Jardines de la Reina Marine Reserve in Cuba (Graham and Pina, in prep.) and Fernando de Noronha in Brazil (Garla et al., in prep). No population size estimates are currently available.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The Caribbean reef shark is the most common shark on or near coral reefs in the Caribbean, often found close to drop-offs on the outer edges of the reefs. It is a tropical inshore, bottom-dwelling species of the continental and insular shelves. While generally reported from depths to at least 30 m (Compagno in prep. b), in San Andrés Archipelago, Colombia it is reported from depths of 45 to 22 5m (Caldas 2002) and through satellite telemetry is now known to dive to 378 m (E. Pikitch and D. Chapman, pers. comm).

Caribbean reef sharks are caught mostly in forereef and deeper lagoonal areas and rarely in the shallow lagoons in Belizes Glover?s Reef (Pikitch et al. submitted), Lighthouse Reef (Graham et al. in prep) and Cuba?s Jardines de la Reina (Graham and Pina in prep). Although intraspecific variation in reef use exists between juveniles and adults at Glover?s Reef (Pikitch et al. submitted), and between males and females at Jardines de la Reina (Graham and Pina in prep), neonate, juvenile and adult habitat overlap at Belize?s Glover?s Reef Atoll (Pikitch et al. submitted), Gladden Spit (Graham and Burgess 2004) and in Cuba?s Jardines de la Reina Archipelago (Graham and Pina in prep) where all three size classes have been caught in forereef sites. Although adults are rarely found in shallow lagoons and juveniles are found in both lagoons and forereef areas, acoustic taqging supports overall species preference for forereef areas at Glover?s Reef (Chapman et al. submitted). In Jardines de la Reina, preliminary results further suggest sexual segregation between adults along two forereef sites located within <10 km of of each other and separated by a broad reef pass (Graham and Pina in prep).

Size at birth is from 60 to 75 cm TL (Castro 1983). Maximum size about 295 cm TL (Compagno 1984). Reproduction is placental viviparous. Difference in the size at maturity exist with 150 to 170 cm TL at Glover?s Reef (Belize) recorded by Pikitch et al. (submitted) and 170 cm TL (males) and ~200 cm TL (females) noted by Compagno (in prep b). Litter size is 3 to 6 pups and gestation period is ~1 year (Compagno in prep. b). Reproductive periodicity is biennial (Castro et al. 1999). Sex ratios from 102 sharks captured at Glover?s Reef Atoll were even from May to July (2000?2004).

Diet appears to include a wide range of reef fishes and some elasmobranchs. Stomach contents analysis in several sites reveals consumption of bony fishes (scarids, carangids and serranids) and elasmobranchs such as Aetobatus narinari and Urobatis jamaicensis (D. Chapman pers. comm.). In Fernando de Noronha archipelago, Brazil, specimens of the teleosts Caranx latus, Sparisoma spp. and Cephalopholis fulva were observed in stomach contents (R. Garla pers. comm). In Manoel Luis reefs, remains of Scaridae and cephalopods were found in stomach contents (Motta et al. 1999).

Movement is more extensive than previously thought on both the horizontal and vertical planes. Using acoustic telemetry, Chapman et al. (submitted) determined that one animal traveled 30 km over deep (>400 m) waters from Glover?s Reef Atoll to neighboring Lighthouse Reef Atoll. Within 30 hours the same individual returned to a site at Glover?s at least 50 km from the Lighthouse receiver site. On the other hand, 14 sharks fitted with acoustic transmitters in Fernando de Noronha archipelago (Brazil) showed little movement and high site fidelity, half of them remaining within areas of 0.7 km² and the other half traveling less than 3.3 km, mainly during the night (Garla et al. submitted for publication).
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): While specific information is unavailable, it is most certainly taken as bycatch in artisanal and commercial longline and gillnet fisheries (Castro et al. 1999). In some regions (i.e., parts of Brazil and the Caribbean) fishing pressure in its area of occurrence is potentially significant. For example, in parts of its range off Brazil it is known to be captured in longline and gillnet fisheries (Sadowsky and Amorim 1977, Gadig et al. 1989, Amorim et al. 1998), although there is no information available on its population status. The species is protected in a number of marine protected areas in Brazil, but enforcement to prevent illegal fishing is required.

In Belize, reef sharks are caught on hook and line primarily as bycatch in the artisanal snapper or grouper fisheries. Pressure is maintained on these populations through local, national and international trade: Asian buyers purchase dried fins for up to USD 37.5/lb and meat is sold in Belize and adjoining Mexico and Guatemala for USD 1.25?1.75/lb to make ?panades? (tortilla-like confection). A dedicated shark fishery operated from several points throughout Belize (San Pedro, Sarteneja, Punta Gorda, Placencia, Dangriga) existed from the mid-1900s to the early 1990s. Dramatic declines in catches of all shark species including reef sharks led many dedicated shark fishers to switch effort to other species, change occupation or retire (Graham, unpublished data).

In Cuba, shark landings peaked in 1981 at 3,076t and have declined since. Although landings of Caribbean reef sharks are not disaggregated from all shark landings, catches of coastal shark species including reef-associated sharks predominated between 1986?1990 (1,187t or 54.2% of landings). Despite a decrease in the total landings for all species between 1981?2003, coastal shark species accounted for 82% of all captures between 1994?2003.

In Colombia, it is frequently captured in the bottom longline fishery of San Andrés Archipelago where it is the most common shark species, representing 39% of the catch by occurrence. Sizes of ~90?180 cm TL are taken in this fishery (Caldas 2002).

Additionally, coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean are suffering damage from bleaching, disease and physical impacts (see for example, Garzón-Ferreira and Rodriguez-Ramírez 2001), which may affect Carcharhinus perezi through habitat degradation and loss.

Utilized for human consumption, leather (skin), oil (livers) and fishmeal (from carcasses) (Compagno in prep. b). In the San Andrés Archipelago bottom longline fishery in Colombia the fins, jaws (for ornamental purposes) and liver (for oil) are utilized, while the meat is only occasionally used as it is not easily marketed. A gallon of liver oil is sold for USD 40?50, jaws for USD 50?60 (specimen >150 cm TL) and a pound of fins for US$45?55 (Caldas 2002). In Belize dried fins are sold to Asian buyers for USD 37.50/lb and meat if sold to Belizeans, Mexicans, Guatemalans and Hondurans for ~USD 1.25-1.75/lb (Graham, unpublished data).

This species forms the basis of several shark feeding tour operations throughout the Caribbean including Belize, Bahamas and Cuba. Although known to be lucrative ? prompting the activity and strong opposition to feeding bans - the Caribbean reef shark feeding industry has not yet been quantitatively valued.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Although this species is protected in a number of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Brazil (see Range and Population section) increased law enforcement against illegal fishing in protected areas is required. Establishment of additional protected areas (no fishing zones) on the outer banks off northern coast of Brazil is also recommended, as are MPAs in other parts of its range to protect this and other species. Shark fishing is illegal in Cuba?s Jardines de la Reina Marine Reserve and local guides have noted an increase in sightings of many species of reef-associated sharks including C. perezi since 1997 when the reserve was declared and enforcement of fishing regulations began. There are currently no conservation measures protecting sharks throughout Belize territorial waters. Despite no-take restrictions in marine reserves, illegal fishing continues to take place and reef sharks are known to be caught. As such, increased enforcement is required in Belize?s 13 marine reserves to specifically protect shark species against illegal fishing. Most sharks caught as bycatch in the hook and line fisheries could be released live but are usually landed.

Bibliography [top]

Acero, A. and Santos-Martínez, A. 1992. Confirmación de la presencia de Carcharhinus perezi (Pises: Carcharhinidae) en el Caribe colombiano. Anales del Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. 19(2): 211–213.

Amorin, A.F., Arfelli, C.A. and Fagundes, L. 1998. Pelagic elasmobranchs caught by longliners off southern Brazil during 1974?97: an overview. Marine and Freshwater Research 49(7): 621?632.

Caldas, J.P. 2002. Ictiofauna acompañante de la pesca industrial con palangre horizontal de fondo en los bancos y bajos de la zona norte del Archipiélago de San Andrés, Providencia y Santa Catalina, Caribe colombiano. Tesis pregrado Biólogo Marino, Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Facultad de Biología Marina. Bogotá

Castro, J.I. 1983. The sharks of North American waters. Texas A & M University Press, College Station.

Castro, J.I., Woodley, C.M. and Brudek, R.L. 1999. A preliminary evaluation of the status of shark species. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 380. FAO, Rome

Cervigón, F. and Alcalá, A. 1999. Los peces marinos de Venezuela. Vol. 5. Tiburones y Rayas. Fundación Museo del Mar.

Chapman, D.D., Pikitch, E.K., Babcock, E. and Shivji, M.S. Submitted (2005). Marine reserve design and evaluation using automated acoustic telemetry: a case study involving coral reef-associated sharks in the Mesoamerican Caribbean. Marine Technology Society Journal

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Sharks of the World: an annotated and illustrated catalogue of the shark species known to date. Part 2 - Carcharhiniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125, Vol. 4(2). FAO, Rome.

Gadig, O.B.F., Bezerra, M.A. and Furtado-Neto, M.A.A. 1989. Nota sobre a biologia do tubarão Carcharhinus perezi (Poey, 1876) (Chondrichthyes: Carcharhinidae) do norte-nordeste do Brasil. Revista Nordestina de Biologia 11(1): 31–36.

Garla, R.C. and Amorim, A.F. 2000. Ecologia e conservação do tubarão-cabeça-de-cesto, Carcharhinus perezi, no Arquipélago de Fernando de Noronha. Resumos da II Reunião da Sociedade Brasileira para o Estudo de Elasmobrânquios, Santos, Instituto de Pesca.

Garla R.C., Chapman D.C., Wetherbee B.M. and Shivji M. (submitted). Movement patterns of Caribbean reef sharks, Carcharhinus perezi, at Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, Brazil: evaluating the effectiveness of marine protected areas for conservation of reef shark nursery grounds. Marine Biology.

Garla R.C., Chapman D.C., Wetherbee B.M., Shivji M. and Amorim A.F. (in prep.). Insular nursery area of the Caribbean reef shark at the western south Atlantic ocean: Fernando de Noronha Archipelago.

Garzón-Ferreira, J. and Rodriguez-Ramírez, A. 2000. Estado de los arrecifes coralinos en colombia año 2000. en: Informe del estado de los ambientes marinos y costeros en Colombia: 2000. Serie documentos generales, Invemar 3:25-36.

Graham, R.T. and Burgess, G.H. 2004. Abundance and diversity of reef-associated sharks at the Gladden Spit Marine Reserve, Belize, preliminary results. Report to the Department of Fisheries. Belize City.

Graham, R.T. and Pina, F. In prep. (2005) Abundance and structure of reef-associated elasmobranchs in the Jardines de la Reina Archipelago, Cuba.

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Lessa, R., Santana, F.M., Rincón, G., Gadig, O.B.F. and El-Deir, A.C.A. 1999. Biodiversidade de Elasmobrânquios no Brasil. In: Relatório e Ações Prioritárias para Conservação da Biodiversidade da Zona Costeira e Marinha. Ministério do Meio Ambiente. (

Motta, F.S., Moura, R.L., Francini-Filho, R.B. and Namora, R.C.1999. Elasmobrânquios dos recifes Manoel Luís ? MA. São Carlos, Resumos do XIII Encontro Brasileiro de Ictiologia

Pikitch, E.K., Chapman, D.D., Babcock, E. and Shivji, M.S. Submitted. Diversity, demographic population structure and habitat-partitioning of reef-associated elasmobranchs at a Caribbean oceanic atoll (Glover?s Reef, Belize). Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Rocha, L.A. and Rosa, I.L. 2001. Baseline assessment of reef fish assemblages of Parcel Manuel Luiz Marine State Park, Maranhão, north-east Brazil. Journal of Fish Biology 58: 985-998.

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Citation: Rosa, R.S., Mancini, P., Caldas, J.P. & Graham, R.T. 2006. Carcharhinus perezi. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 20 April 2014.
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