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 Whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus)

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Whitetip reef shark
 Range Map

Earth Map


Phylum: Vertebates (Chordata)

Class: Carlilagenous Fishes (Chondrichthyes)
  Order: Ground sharks (Carcharhiniformes)
    Family: Requiem sharks (Carcharhinidae)
      Genus: Triaenodon (Triaenodon)


Scientific: Triaenodon obesus
German: Weissspitzen-Riffhai
English: Whitetip reef shark
French: Requin corail
Spanish: Tiburón coralero nato


Body moderately slender with a very broad and flattened head. Broadly rounded snout. Short labial furrows. First dorsal fin is well behind the free rear ends of the pectoral fins. Second dorsal fin large but still smaller than first one. Pectoral fins fairly broad and triangular. No interdorsal ridge. No lateral keels on caudal peduncle.


Grey to brownish upper body with light ventral surface. First dorsal fin and upper caudal fin with a conspicuous white tip. Small dark dots over entire body. Other fins (second dorsal, ventral caudal lobe, underside of pectoral fin) may possibly have white tips too.


Wide-ranging. Indo-Pacific and central Pacific: South Africa, Red Sea, India, Maldives, Seychelles, Australia, Philippines, Hawaiian Islands.


The most abundant species in reef areas, together with Blacktip reef shark and Gray reef shark . Prefers shallow water, but has been found down to 330 m and lives close to the bottom or motionless on the bottom,or in caves and crevices. Compared to the typical reef sharks (requiem sharks), this species swims in a more undulating manner. Primarily nocturnal, but seems to be correlated with tidal ranges. They can be found in the same area for months (a few square kilometers) but territoriality is not known.


Feeds on bottom prey (reef fishes) and crustaceans.


Average size about 140 cm to 160 cm, maximum total length probably about 210 cm.


Gives birth to live young (viviparous). They reach sexual maturity at an age of 5 years and a size of about 105 cm (males and females). Gestation period unknown. Litter size varies between 1 and 5 pups, normally 2 or 3 pups that are about 50 cm to 60 cm at the time of birth. It is estimated that this species can reach an age of about 25 years.

 Similar Species

None. However the white tips can lead to possible confusion (at least from a distance) with the Silvertip shark that also has white fin tips but looks different at close range.


Status in the IUCN Red List(1994):

Main criterion: > LR/nt (Low Risk/Near Threatened (1994))
Sub criterion:
Trend: Unknown

 Danger to Humans

Harmless, but accidents are known (probably based on harassment of divers and swimmers).

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