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Carcharhinus melanopterus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA CHONDRICHTHYES CARCHARHINIFORMES CARCHARHINIDAE

Scientific Name: Carcharhinus melanopterus
Species Authority: (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824)
Common Name(s):
English Blacktip Reef Shark
Synonym(s):
Carcharias melanopterus Quoy & Gaimard, 1824

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2005-10-01
Assessor(s): Heupel, M.
Reviewer(s): Musick, J.A. & Fowler, S.L. (Shark Red List Authority)
Justification:
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.

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:
Native:
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:
Native:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Mediterranean and Black Sea; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – western central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Common in tropical and subtropical waters.
Population Trend: Decreasing

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.
Systems: Marine

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.

Citation: Heupel, M. 2009. Carcharhinus melanopterus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 October 2014.
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