Black Tip Reef Shark

Scientific NameCarcharhinus melanopteruso

Native To Indo-Pacific and Mediterranean

Habitat Found 0-20 m (0-66 ft) deep, on lagoons and reef flats

Diet Sturgeon, grouper, mullet, squid, octopus and shrimp

Size and Age Up to 2.13 m (7 ft) long; average lifespan of 13 years

Natural History

Black tip reef sharks are among the few species of shark that occasionally cooperate to catch prey. When these sharks find a school of reef fish, they’ll work together to circle their prey into a tight ball before attacking.

Like great whites and mako sharks, black tip reef sharks are also known for their ability to “breach,” or leap completely out of the water when attacking prey. The speed and force of these attacks can sometimes result in incredible acrobatic displays.

Near Threatened

Conservation Status

Black tip reef sharks are primarily targeted for their fins and tails, because of their unique markings. Some cultures hunt them for their meat and organs as well. 

Interesting Facts

  • Black tip reef sharks mostly hunt at night, and may work cooperatively to herd large schools of fish.
  • They have been known to infrequently bite swimmers or waders, so it is not considered a serious danger to humans. In fact, their shy behaviour often makes them difficult to approach.
  • The black tip reef shark's dark-grey back blends in with the ocean floor, while its white belly blends into the brighter surface waters.
  • They reproduce through viviparity, meaning mothers give birth to live young.