Grey Reef Shark (species: Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos
Grey Reef Shark

©Victor Huertas: A young Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos at Horseshoe Reef, Lizard Island.

©Lyle Vail: Grey Reef Shark at Day Reef near Lizard Island.

©Anne Hoggett: Grey Reef Shark at Cod Hole
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Elasmobranchii
Order Carcharhiniformes
Family Carcharhinidae
Genus Carcharhinus
Species Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos



Distinguishing features

A medium sized shark with a streamlined grey body and whitish underparts. The rear of the tail has a broad black margin, and the second dorsal, anal, and underside of the pectoral fins also have black margins.


  • Up to 172 cm (Length of specimen)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Reef slopes and deeper channels.

Can be seen occasionally along the exposed outer reef slopes and inside the entrance channel.


The Grey Reef Shark is usually seen singly or in small loose groups in areas of good current flow or where reef edges are adjacent to deeper water. It feeds on reef fishes, cephalopods, and crayfish and is mainly active at night, although this species will feed in the daytime as well. Grey Reef Sharks are viviparous and give birth to 3-6 juveniles per litter, and these are about 60cm at birth. Female Grey Reef Sharks have been documented to return to regular daytime aggregation sites in spring at Johnston Atoll, Central Pacific, where their numbers may reach 80-140 individuals in a small area. The reasons for these aggregations are unknown, and the sharks disperse each night to feed.

Web resources


  • unspecified - This shark has a definite home range and may become agitated by the presence of divers or snorkellers in its territory, particularly if approached closely or trapped against the reef wall. Threat displays indicate that the shark is agitated, and these include hunching the back, lowering the pectoral fins, shaking or shivering of the body, and snapping of the jaws. If the diver does not leave the area, then the shark may charge rapidly and possibly bite in self defense. To avoid agitating this species, do not approach closely or head on, and do not herd the shark in close to the reef. Shark bites may cause deep lacerations - for first aid click here.


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 (2008). A new gnathiid (Crustacea: Isopoda) parasitizing two species of requiem sharks from Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Journal of Parasitology, 94: 608-615. LIRS catalog number 1136.
  • 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.
  • View all references