Spinner Shark, Carcharhinus brevipinna (Valenciennes 1839)

Other Names: Eastern Sand Shark, Inkytail Shark, Inky-tail Shark, Longnose Grey Shark, Long-nose Grey Shark, Long-nosed Grey Shark, Smoothfang Shark, Smooth-fanged Shark

Spinner Shark, Carcharhinus brevipinna. Source: NOAA/NMFS, E. Hoffmayer, S. Iglésias and R. McAuley. License: Public Domain


A grey shark with a white underside, a  conspicuous white band along sides, and subadults and adults with black or dark grey tips to all fins except the pelvic fins, and noticeably small teeth in the upper jaw. 

Cite this page as:
Reardon, M.B. & Bray, D.J. 2023, Carcharhinus brevipinna in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Jul 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/2884

Spinner Shark, Carcharhinus brevipinna (Valenciennes 1839)

More Info


South of Geographe Bay, south Western Australia, around the tropical north to off Tathra, southern New South Wales. Elsewhere the species is found worldwide in warm temperate, subtropical and tropical continental and insular shelf waters. Mostly inhabits inshore waters in bays, off beaches and river mouths. The species is also pelagic in offshore waters. 


Body slender, snout long, narrow, pointed,  gill slits long. Upper jaw teeth small, very slender, with erect cusps. First dorsal fin small; interdorsal ridge absent; labial furrows conspicuous.


Feeds mostly on bony fishes; also consumes small rays and cephalopods.


Males mature at 170–220 cm TL and females at 160–222 cm TL. Reproduction is viviparous with a yolk-sac placenta and litter sizes of 3–15, a biennial reproductive cycle, and size-at-birth of 48–80 cm TL. Nursery grounds occur in shallow, near-shore waters. 


In Australia, the species is caught as bycatch in Western Australian trawl fisheries, the Northern Prawn Fishery, and the Eastern Tuna and Billfish longline fishery. It is also taken in east coast line fisheries.


Named for its unusual habit of leaping from the water, rotating as many as three times before falling back into the water, usually on its back.


The specific name brevipinna is from the Latin brevis (= short) and pinna (= fin), in reference to the small pectoral and first dorsal fins of this species.

Species Citation

Carcharias (Aprion) brevipinna Valenciennes, in Müller & Henle 1839, Systematische Beschreibung der Plagiostomen: 31, pl. 9. Type locality: Java.


Reardon, M.B. & Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Spinner Shark, Carcharhinus brevipinna (Valenciennes 1839)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

Capape, C., Hemida, F., Seck, A.A., Diatta, Y., Guelorget, O. & Zaouali, J. 2003. Distribution and reproductive biology of the spinner shark, Carcharhinus brevipinna (Muller and Henle, 1841) (Chondrichthyes: Carcharhinidae). Israel Journal of Zoology 49 (4): 269–286. 

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Carcharhiniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125. Rome : FAO Vol. 4(2) 251-655 pp. 

Compagno, L.J.V., Dando, M. & Fowler, S. 2005. A Field Guide to the Sharks of the World. London : Collins 368 pp. 

Compagno, L.J.V. & Niem, V.H. 1998. Family Carcharhinidae. pp. 1312-1360 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 2 687-1396 pp. 

Garman, S. 1913. The Plagiostomia (sharks, skates and rays). Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University 36: 1-528 pls 1-77 (as Aprionodon brevipinna)

Garrick, J.A.F. 1982. Sharks of the genus Carcharhinus. National Marine Fisheries Service (U.S.). Technical Report 445: 1-194 figs 1-83 

Geraghty, P.T., Macbeth, W.G., Harry, A.V., Bell, J.E., Yerman, M.N. & Williamson, J.E. 2013. Age and growth parameters for three heavily exploited shark species off temperate eastern Australia. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fst164

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp. 

Gray, J.E. 1851. List of the Specimens of Fish in the Collection of the British Museum. Chondropterygii. London : British Museum 160 pp., 2 pls. (as Squalus brevipinna)

Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds). The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp. 

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3) 

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls. 

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia 2, 550 pp. Macbeth, W.G., Vandenberg, M. & Graham, K.J. 2008. Identifying Sharks and Rays; A guide to Commercial Fishers. Sydney : New South Wales Department of Primary Industry pp. 71. 

Macbeth, W.G., Vandenberg, M. & Graham, K.J. 2008. Identifying sharks and rays; a guide for commercial fishes. Sydney : New South Wales Department of Primary Industry 71 pp. 

Müller, J. & Henle, F.G.J. 1839. Systematische Beschreibung der Plagiostomen. Berlin : Veit & Co pp. 29-102 pls. See ref at BHL

Patterson, H., Larcombe, J., Nicol, S. & Curtotti, R. 2018. Fishery Status Reports 2018. Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs. 

Rigby, C.L., Carlson, J., Smart, J.J., Pacoureau, N., Herman, K., Derrick, D. & Brown, E. 2020. Carcharhinus brevipinna. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T39368A2908817. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T39368A2908817.en. Accessed on 25 May 2023.

Smart, J.J., White, W.T., Baje, L., et al. 2020. Can multi-species shark longline fisheries be managed sustainably using size limits? Theoretically, yes. Realistically, no. Journal of Applied Ecology 57: 1847– 1860. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.13659

Stead, D.G. 1963. Sharks and Rays of Australian Seas. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 211 pp. 63 figs. 

White, W.T., Baje, L., Sabub, B., Appleyard, S.A., Pogonoski, J.J. & Mana, R.R. 2018. Sharks and Rays of Papua New Guinea. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) Monograph No. 189 (for 2017). i-vi, 1-327. See ref online

Whitley, G.P. 1939. Taxonomic notes on sharks and rays. The Australian Zoologist 9(3): 227-262 figs 1-18 pls 20-22 (as Longmania brevipinna)

Whitley, G.P. 1940. The Fishes of Australia. Part 1. The sharks, rays, devil-fish, and other primitive fishes of Australia and New Zealand. Sydney : Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales 280 pp. 303 figs. 

Whitley, G.P. 1943. Ichthyological descriptions and notes. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 68(3, 4): 114-144 figs 1-12 (described as Uranga nasuta, type locality Urangan, Moreton Bay, QLD)

Whitley, G.P. 1944. New sharks and fishes from Western Australia. The Australian Zoologist 10(3): 252-273 figs 1-6 (described as Longmania calamaria, type locality Busselton, Western Australia)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37018023

Conservation:IUCN Vulnerable

Danger:Potentially dangerous

Depth:0-200 m


Habitat:Coastal, pelagic

Max Size:304 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map