Blacktip reef shark

Animal File

Tropical oceans
Coral reefs
Common Name:
Blacktip reef shark
Scientific Name:
Carcharhinus melanopterus
Size: Up to 180cm and 24kg in weight
South America
Australia, Mexico, India
Conservation Status
Near threatened

As the name suggests, this reef shark has black tips on all its fins; pectoral, dorsal and tail. They have a long pointed snout, small eyes and a streamlined torpedo-shaped body enabling them to swim swiftly and efficiently through the water. They can sometimes been seen jumping out of the water and spinning before dropping back, this behavior is used during feeding. The sharks propel themselves up vertically through a school of fish, spinning and snapping at their prey until they breach the surface.

Blacktip reef sharks predominantly feed on shoals of small fish including herring and sardines but will also prey on cuttlefish, octopus, crabs, lobster and squid. These sharks often swim in large schools which can be useful when hunting although it can also result in a competitive feeding frenzy when met with vast shoals of fish.

The female Blacktip reef sharks give birth to between one and ten pups, following a year of pregnancy. Mating and birth occurs between May and June and the juvenile sharks remain in shallow protected nursery waters until the autumn with plentiful food and away from potential predators.

The Blacktip reef shark is regarded as a timid shark that is easily scared away from humans however because of their shallow water swimming habits, they sometimes encounter bathers, with some minor bites recorded. No such black tip reef sharks bites have ever resulted in serious injury.

As with most shark species Blacktip reef shark populations have been decimated through over exploitation by commercial and recreational fisheries. Black tip reef sharks are slow to reach breeding age and produce a small number of young when they do, making them extremely vulnerable to such pressures.  Fins are sold to Asian markets to make the Chinese ‘delicacy’ shark fin soup and are also killed as bycatch in nets intended for other fish.

A group of six blacktip reef sharks can be found in the Great Barrier Reef display at the Oceanarium. Visitors can see these sharks being fed four times per week in their 350,000 litres of water tank.

Talks and Feeding times

Children under 3 yrs FREE!! See other tickets

The health of our aquarium family, which includes our visitors, staff and animals, is our top priority. In light of the most recent advice from Public Health England and the government, we will be temporarily closing the Oceanarium Bournemouth effective immediately, until further notice.

We apologise for any disappointment and inconvenience caused.

Please be assured that our dedicated keeper team will continue to provide the best care for our animals during the closure.

If you’ve booked tickets for any day during this closure, you can exchange them for any other date in 2020 or we can provide a refund. Please send your booking details to

We’ll keep you informed through our website and social media channels. Thank you for your patience and we really look forward to welcoming you back to the Oceanarium when we re-open. Stay safe everyone.