Blacktip Reef Shark [Carcharhinus melanopterus]

Quick Facts

Size: up to 6 feet long

Lifespan: up to 10 years

Color: Pale gray/brown above and white beneath; all fins have black tips

Range: Indian and Pacific Oceans

Habitat: coastline

Location in the Zoo: Aquarium


As its name suggests, the blacktip reef shark is easily identified by the namesake-colored tips of its fins. It is among the most abundant sharks that call the tropical coral reefs of the Indian and Pacific Oceans home and prefers shallow, inshore waters.

Small fish are its usual prey, but it will also eat squid and crustaceans, and even sea snakes and seabirds. While most sharks hunt solo, blacktip reefs sharks are team players. They come together to snare schools of fish in packs, circling them into a tight ball before launching attack. These sharks are known to jump fully out of the water during feeding frenzies!

The blacktip reef shark is listed as Vulnerable. Although it remains widespread and common overall, overfishing has led to its decline at a number of sites within its range. Ocean acidification is damaging its coral reef habitat, putting both this shark and its food supply at risk.


We are excited to partner with WQED to present WQED’s Cartoon Academy at the Zoo! Follow along with Pittsburgh cartoonist, Joe Wos, as he teaches you how to create a shark in the video below!