Blacktip Reef Shark (species: Carcharhinus melanopterus) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Carcharhinus melanopterus
Blacktip Reef Shark

©Andy Lewis: An adult Blacktip Reef Shark in the Lizard Island lagoon

©Andy Lewis: A Blacktip Reef Shark at Watson's Bay

©Anne Hoggett: Juvenile blacktip in intertidal mangrove area at the Turtle Group, January 2012
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Elasmobranchii
Order Carcharhiniformes
Family Carcharhinidae
Genus Carcharhinus
Species Carcharhinus melanopterus



Distinguishing features

A small to medium sized shark with a streamlined bronze body and whitish underparts. There are black tips to all fins.


  • Up to 200 cm (Length of specimen)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.


Similar taxa


©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Shallow reef flats and slopes, lagoonal and backreef patches. Small individuals will move into mangrove areas and shallow intertidal reef flats.

Can be seen in most locations around the Island.


The Blacktip Reef Shark is usually seen singly or in pairs over shallow reef areas. It feeds on reef fishes, cephalopods, and crayfish and is mainly active at night, although this species will feed in the daytime as well. Blacktip Reef Sharks are viviparous and give birth to 2-4 juveniles per litter, and these are about 50cm at birth after a gestation of 280-300 days.

Web resources


References that assist with identification

  • Randall, J.E., G.R. Allen and R.C. Steene (1990). Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Other references

  • Coetzee, M.L., N.J. Smit, A.S. Grutter and A.J. Davies (2009). Gnathia trimaculata n. sp. (Crustacea: Isopoda: Gnathiidae), an ectoparasite found parasitising requiem sharks from off Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Systematic Parasitology, 72: 97-112. LIRS catalog number 1232.
  • Frisch, A.J. and J.R. Rizzari (2019). Parks for sharks: human exclusion areas outperform no-take marine reserves. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, doi:10.1002/fee.2003. LIRS catalog number 2382.
  • View all references