Blacktip Reef Shark

Blacktip Reef Shark

Carcharhinus melanopterus

Blacktip Reef Shark Blacktip Reef Shark Blacktip Reef Shark Blacktip Reef Shark

The Blacktip Reef shark is named for the characteristic black tips on its dorsal and caudal fins. It has a short, round snout and angled, saw-like teeth. Its white belly and dark back allow it to camouflage with the dim seafloor and the brighter ocean surface.

Blacktip Reef sharks swim in shallow waters just a few meters deep near reefs and drop-off zones. They have also occasionally been sighted in freshwater. These sharks often swim in schools, as seen in the Aquarium’s Blacktip Reef exhibit.

Did You Know?

These sharks sometimes jump fully out of the water during feeding frenzies.


Blacktip Reef sharks primarily feed on reef fish but sometimes eat crustaceans, cephalopods and mollusks.


These sharks can grow up to 6 feet long.


Blacktip Reef sharks are commonly found along the coastlines of Pacific regions, such as Thailand, Japan, Philippines, New Caledonia and northern Australia. They are also found in the Indian Ocean from South Africa to the Red Sea.

Population Status

These sharks are not currently endangered, but the species is experiencing population loss due to overfishing.


Blacktip Reef sharks are often caught by commercial fisheries for their meat, liver oil and fins.

Back to the Top

pressroom striped fish

Holly Bourbon
Curator of Large-Fish Exhibits/Diving Safety Officer

As the curator of large-fish exhibits, Holly's day-to-day responsibilities include managing our staff of aquarists and making sure that all of the animals under our care are doing well! Learn More

Underwater Diver Chat

Underwater Diver Chat

National Aquarium - Immersion Tours

Sharks! Behind-the-Scenes

Get uncomfortably close to these predators of the deep.

Learn About Sharks!
Behind the Scenes