Carcharhinus melanopterus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Carcharhiniformes Carcharhinidae

Scientific Name: Carcharhinus melanopterus (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824)
Common Name(s):
English Blacktip Reef Shark
Carcharias melanopterus Quoy & Gaimard, 1824
Carcharias commersoni (Blainville, 1816)
Carcharias elegans Ehrenberg, 1871
Carcharias marianensis Engelhardt, 1912
Carcharias playfairii Günther, 1870
Hypoprion playfairii (Günther, 1870)
Squalus carcharias minor Forsskål, 1775
Squalus commersonii Blainville, 1816
Squalus ustus Duméril, 1824
Taxonomic Source(s): Quoy, J.R. and Gaimard, P. 1824. Description des poisons. Paris.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2005-10-01
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Heupel, M.
Reviewer(s): Musick, J.A. & Fowler, S.L. (Shark Red List Authority)
This assessment is based on the information published in the 2005 shark status survey (Fowler et al. 2005).

The Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) is a common and wide-ranging species, regularly caught by inshore fisheries. Globally, populations are not considered to be in immediate danger of significant depletion. However, this species is currently fished, and due to small litter sizes and long gestation periods, is vulnerable to depletion.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Blacktip Reef Shark is a common tropical Indo-West Pacific and Central Pacific species with a range extending from Thailand to China, Japan, the Philippines, New Caledonia and northern Australia (Compagno 1984). Blacktip Reef Sharks have been reported from many Pacific Islands including: the Marshall Islands (Bonham 1960), the Solomon Islands (Blaber and Milton 1990) the Gilbert Islands, the Society Islands south to the Tuamotu Archipelago (Randall and Helfman 1973) and also the Hawaiian Islands (Randall and Helfman 1973, Compagno 1984, Taylor and Wisner 1989). The species is also present in South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles and Madagascar to the Red Sea, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Andaman and the Maldive Islands (Compagno 1984). This shark has also penetrated the eastern Mediterranean Sea, probably via the Suez Canal from the Red Sea. The Blacktip Reef Shark is commonly found in shallow waters on and near coral reefs (Randall and Helfman 1973, Compagno 1984, Last and Stevens 1994). This species is often seen in water only a few metres deep and is occasionally present in brackish waters (Last and Stevens 1994).
Countries occurrence:
Australia (Northern Territory); China; Djibouti; Eritrea; India; Japan; Kenya; Madagascar; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; Mozambique; New Caledonia; Pakistan; Philippines; Seychelles; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Mediterranean and Black Sea; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Common in tropical and subtropical waters.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Most authors agree that Blacktip Reef Sharks range from 30-50 cm at birth. Adults reach total lengths of up to 180 cm and mature between 90-110 cm (Compagno 1984, Stevens 1984, Last and Stevens 1994).

Stomach contents show the primary item of prey to be teleost fishes (Lyle 1987, Stevens 1984, Last and Stevens 1994). Prey items also include crustaceans, cephalopods and other molluscs (Stevens 1984, Lyle 1987, Last and Stevens 1994). Interestingly, the species is also reported to have consumed terrestrial and sea snakes (Lyle 1987, Lyle and Timms 1987). Lyle (1987) also reported that predation upon other elasmobranchs was rare.

Information on reproductive biology is limited and conflicting. Blacktip Reef Sharks are viviparous with a yolk sac placenta and give birth to 2-4 pups (usually four) (Compagno 1984, Lyle 1987, Last and Stevens 1994). In northern Australia mating probably occurs in January and February, with parturition occurring in November (Lyle 1987). This cycle would allow an 8-9-month gestation period, however, Compagno (1984b), Melouk (1957) and Randall and Helfman (1973) list the gestation period for this species as being possibly 16 months. Observations of Blacktip Reef Sharks at the Aldabra Atoll (Indian Ocean) showed mating to occur in October-November and parturition the following October. These animals would therefore undergo a 10-11 month gestation period (Stevens 1984b). Stevens (1984b) also noted that individuals in this area generally breed every other year, but that this may be due to competition for food in the area because of its high shark population.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Not a target species, but regularly caught by inshore fisheries in India and Thailand. Used fresh and dry salted for human consumption and for its liver-oil, but of little commercial importance.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The Blacktip Reef Shark is not a target of major fisheries, but is regularly caught by inshore fisheries in India and Thailand (Compagno 1984b). It is rarely taken by northern Australian gillnet fisheries because of its shallow habitat (Last and Stevens 1994). Although this species is used fresh and dry salted for human consumption and for its liver-oil (Last and Stevens 1994) it is considered to be of little commercial importance (Lyle 1987). Data concerning the take of this species in artisanal fisheries is scarce, but due to its inshore, shallow water habitat it is likely to be a target of such activities. However, it is common in tropical and subtropical waters and not, therefore, considered to be in any immediate danger of serious population depletion worldwide.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are currently no conservation or management plans in effect for this species.

Classifications [top]

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Blaber, S.J.M. and Milton, D.A. 1990. Species composition, community structure and zoogeography of fishes of mangrove estuaries in the Solomon Islands. Marine Biology 105: 259–267.

Bonham, K. 1960. Note on sharks from Rongelap Atoll, Marshall Islands. Copeia 1960(3): 257.

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species to date. Part II (Carcharhiniformes). FAO Fisheries Synopsis, FAO, Rome.

Fowler, S.L., Cavanagh, R.D., Camhi, M., Burgess, G.H., Cailliet, G.M., Fordham, S.V., Simpfendorfer, C.A. and Musick, J.A. (comps and eds). 2005. Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras: The Status of the Chondrichthyan Fishes. Status Survey. pp. x + 461. IUCN/SSC Shark Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2009.2). Available at: (Accessed: 3 November 2009).

IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group. Specialist Group website. Available at:

Last, P.R. and Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia, 2nd edition. CSIRO, Melbourne, Australia.

Lyle, J.M. 1987. Observations of the biology of Carcharhinus acutus (Whitley), C. melanopterus (Quoy and Gaimard) and C. fitzroyensis (Whitley) from Northern Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 38: 701–710.

Lyle, J.M. and Timms, G.J. 1987. Predation on aquatic snakes by sharks from Northern Australia. Copeia 1987(3): 802–803.

Melouk, M.A. 1957. On the development of Carcharhinus melanopterus (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824). Publications of the Marine Biological Station at Ghardaqa.

Randall, J.E. and Helfman, G.S. 1973. Attacks on humans by the blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus). California Wild (formerly known as Pacific Science) 27(3): 226–238.

Stevens, J.D. 1984. Life history and ecology of sharks at Aldabra Atoll, Indian Ocean. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London B 222: 79–106.

Taylor, L. and Wisner, M. 1989. Growth rates of captive blacktip reef sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus). Bulletin De L'Institut Oceanographique, Monaco special 5: 211–217.

Citation: Heupel, M. 2009. Carcharhinus melanopterus. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T39375A10219032. . Downloaded on 19 June 2018.
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