Latin name

Carcharhinus melanopterus

Other names

Carcharhinus melanopterus


This species has a characteristic torpedo-shaped, streamlined body. The snout is short, broad and rounded. The oval, rather large eyes are horizontally elongated. The nostrils are framed in front by skin folds that form nipple-shaped lobes. 


The symphyseal teeth are absent. There are 11-13 upper and 10-12 lower teeth in the mouth on each side of the jaw. The upper teeth are triangular in shape, their edges are serrated, and their inclination is vertical to oblique. The lower teeth are similar to the upper teeth, but the denticles along their edges are thinner. Compared to the teeth of females, the teeth of adult males are more curved.

Features of fish fins

The large pectoral fins are curved like a narrow sickle and taper to the tips. The length of their anterior margin is 17-19% of the total body length. The first dorsal fin is also of considerable size, its free posterior tip forming a curve in the shape of the letter "S", the base is located behind the free tips of the pectoral fins. The second dorsal fin is smaller than the first and is located opposite the anal fin. Its height is 3.4-4.1% of the total body length. The length of the inner edge is 0.8-1.1% of the height. There is no ridge between the dorsal fins.

Fish colouring

The coloration of the dorsal surface is gray-brown, the belly is white. The ends of the shark's fins - the first dorsal fin, the lower tail blade, and sometimes the pectoral fins - are distinctly black. 


They inhabit coastal areas of the tropical and subtropical Indian and Pacific Oceans. Since the opening of the Suez Canal, sharks have invaded and adapted to the Mediterranean. In the Indian Ocean, they are found from South Africa to the Red Sea, including the waters of Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles. To the east, their range extends along the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia, including Sri Lanka, the Andaman Islands, and the Maldives. In the Pacific Ocean, they are distributed from the southern coast of China, the Philippines and Indonesia to northern Australia, New Caledonia and numerous islands (Marshall Islands, Gilbert Islands, Society Islands, Hawaii and Tuamotu). 


They prefer shallow waters and are not afraid to enter reef platforms. This species has been recorded at depths of up to 75 meters. Sometimes these sharks can be seen patrolling the reef with their dorsal fin above the water. Juvenile sharks stay at shallow depths, while adults can be found on cliffs near the edge of the reef.


Length rarely exceeds 1.6 m, maximum recorded length 1.8 m, some reports say 2 m. Maximum recorded weight 13.6 kg.


There is some evidence that sharks are migratory in the northern and southern peaks of their range. They occur singly or in small groups and occasionally gather in large schools. Immature and adult sharks are not sexually segregated. Some individuals become attached to a single habitat, which they may not leave for several years. Most of the time these sharks swim back and forth along the edge of the reef, making occasional forays into the sandy wasteland. At night with the tide, their average speed decreases, possibly because the influx of cooler water slows their metabolism, or because the fish they hunt slow down. 

Food and feeding habits

Are the dominant predators in their ecosystem and play a leading role in shaping the structure of the synecology. Their diet consists mainly of bony fish such as mullet, grouper, pomadasys, caranx, gerreidae, guban, surgeonfish and sillaginidae. They also eat squid, octopus, shrimp, cuttlefish, as well as carrion and small sharks and rays. In the presence of conspecifics, they become bold and agitated, and in extreme situations can go into a feeding frenzy. This species is more active at night.


Reproduces by live birth, although there is considerable variation in the life cycle between populations. Specifically, the shortened reproductive cycle of this species may be related to increased water temperature. When ready to mate, the female begins to swim near the bottom, head down, in a sinusoidal pattern. Observations in the wild suggest that females emit chemical signals that allow males to detect them. After locating a receptive female, the male approaches her at a distance of about 15 cm and begins to follow her with his snout pointing toward her cloaca. During courtship, the male may bite the female in the gill area or on the pectoral fins, and the resulting wounds heal in 4-6 weeks. After completing the stalking phase, the male pushes the female and turns her on her side so that her head is against the ground and her tail is raised, and inserts one of the pterygopodia into the cloaca. Copulation lasts a few minutes, then the sharks disengage and continue their normal behavior. Births occur from September to November. Females use shallow water inside reefs as a natural nursery. 


These sharks are regularly caught in fishing nets in the coastal waters of Thailand and India. This species is of no interest to commercial fisheries. The meat is used for human consumption.

Relationship with a person

They tend to be shy and will swim away when humans appear. However, sharks of this species have been known to attack humans, but no fatalities have been reported. This species of shark is commonly kept in aquariums in zoos and oceanariums.

Phylum Chordata
Class Chondrichthyes
Squad Carcharhiniformes
Family Carcharhinidae
Genus Carcharhinus
Species C. melanopterus
Conservation status Vulnerable
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years No information
Maximum body weight, kg 13,6
Maximum length, cm 200
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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