Dusky Whaler, Carcharhinus obscurus (Lesueur 1818)

Other Names: Black Whaler, Black Whaler Shark, Bronze Whaler, Common Whaler Shark, Dusky Shark, River Whaler, Slender Whaler Shark, Whaler Shark

A Dusky Whaler, Carcharhinus obscurus, at Fairy Bower, May 2014. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A large predatory shark found in coastal and continental shelf waters around Australia, including Tasmania. The Dusky Whaler is one of the pelagic sharks most vulnerable to overfishing.

Juvenile Dusky Whalers in the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve, Fairy Bower, Sydney.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Carcharhinus obscurus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 May 2022, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1953

Dusky Whaler, Carcharhinus obscurus (Lesueur 1818)

More Info


Patchy worldwide distribution in tropical and temperate seas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In Australian waters, Although the Dusky Whaler is found around Australia, it is rare in Tasmanian waters. The species occurs along the continental margins from the surf zone to a depth of 400 m.


Vert 173–194 (86–97 precaudal)

Snout moderately long (length to mouth 5–10% TL), bluntly rounded; labial furrows short and inconspicuous; upper teeth broadly triangular with serrated cusps; 1st dorsal-fin origin over free rear tip of pectoral fin, both sets of fins tapering distally, apices pointed or narrowly rounded; interdorsal ridge present.


Reaches 3.65 m TL.


Bronzy grey to dark grey above, white below; faint pale stripe extending anteriorly on flank from pelvic fins; fins tips mostly dusky in juveniles, but less so in adults.

Species Citation

Squalus obscurus Lesueur, 1818, J. Acad. nat. Sci., Philad., 1: 223, pl. 9, North America.


Bray, D.J. 2017

Dusky Whaler, Carcharhinus obscurus (Lesueur 1818)


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.

Garrick, J.A.F. 1982. Sharks of the genus CarcharhinusNational 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, doi.10.1093/icesjms/fst164.

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

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

Kailola, P.J., Williams, M.J., Stewart, P.C., Reichelt, R.E., McNee, A. & Grieve, C. 1993. Australian Fisheries Resources. Canberra : Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation 422 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

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.

Lesueur, C.A. 1818. Descriptions of several new species of North American fishes. Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 1(2): 222-235 fig. 9-10

Macbeth, W.G., Vandenberg, M. & Graham, K.J. 2008. Identifying Sharks and Rays; a Guide for Commercial Fishers. Sydney : New South Wales Department of Primary Industry 71 pp.

Pepperell, J. 2010. Fishes of the Open Ocean a Natural History & Illustrated Guide. Sydney : University of New South Wales Press Ltd 266 pp.

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.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Rogers, P.J., C. Huveneers, S.D. Goldsworthy, W.W.L. Cheung, G.K. Jones, J.G. Mitchell & L. Seuront.  2013. Population metrics and movement of two sympatric carcharhinids: a comparison of the vulnerability of pelagic sharks of the southern Australian gulfs and shelves. Marine and Freshwater Research 64(1): 20-30 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF11234

Rogers, P.J., Huveneers, C., Goldsworthy, S.D., Mitchell, J.G. & Seuront, L. 2013. Broad-scale movements and pelagic habitat of the dusky shark Carcharhinus obscurus off Southern Australia determined using pop-up satellite archival tags. Fisheries Oceanography 22(2): 102-112. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fog.12009

Simpfendorfer, C.A. (2000). Growth rates of juvenile dusky sharks, Carcharhinus obscurus (Lesueur, 1818), from southwestern Australia estimated from tag-recapture data. Fish Bulletin 98: 811–822.

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

Stevens, J.D. 1994. Families Carcharhinidae, Triakidae, Scyliorhinidae. pp. 120-138 figs 76-107 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

White, W. 2008. Shark Families Heterodontidae to Pristiophoridae. pp. 32-100 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

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 : Roy. Zool. Soc. N.S.W. 280 pp. 303 figs.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37018003

Conservation:IUCN Near threatened

Depth:0-400 m


Max Size:365 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map