Whitetip Reef Shark (species: Triaenodon obesus) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Triaenodon obesus
Whitetip Reef Shark

©Peter Forster: Triaenodon obesus at Ribbon Reef 10.

©Anne Hoggett: Whitetip Reef Shark at Cod Hole near Lizard Island, Queensland, Australia

©Anne Hoggett: Whitetip Reef Sharks resting on the sand under a ledge at Cod Hole Near Lizard Island, Queensland, Australia
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Elasmobranchii
Order Carcharhiniformes
Family Carcharhinidae
Genus Triaenodon
Species Triaenodon obesus



Distinguishing features

A small to medium sized slender shark with a grey body and whitish underparts.The snout is broadly rounded and there are white tips to the dorsal fin and tail.


  • Up to 213 cm (Length of specimen)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Reef fronts, lagoonal and backreef patches. Not generally seen in very shallow water like the Blacktip Reef Shark.

Can be seen in most locations around the Island.


The Whitetip Reef Shark is usually seen swimming singly over the reef, or resting on the bottom in pairs or small groups in caves or in deeper passes. It feeds on reef fishes, cephalopods, and crayfish and is mainly active at night.

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 (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.
  • 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