Spot-tail Shark, Carcharhinus sorrah (Valenciennes 1839)

Other Names: School Shark, Sorrah Shark, Spot-tail Whaler, West Australian Whaler Shark

A Spot-tail Shark, Carcharhinus sorrah. Source: CSIRO National Fish Collection. License: CC BY Attribution

Once the second most abundant species of shark in Australian waters, many populations appear to be in decline worldwide.

Cite this page as:
Reardon, M.B. & Bray, D.J. 2023, Carcharhinus sorrah in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Apr 2024,

Spot-tail Shark, Carcharhinus sorrah (Valenciennes 1839)

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Widespread in the tropical Indo-West Pacific, from South Africa and Mozambique, across the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia, to Australia. The species is very common off northern Australia.


Targeted and taken as bycatch throughout its range in industrial and small-scale fisheries using longline, gillnet, handline and demersal trawls. The species is retained for its meat, fins, skin, teeth and liver oil.
The Spot-tail Shark is currently sustainably fished in northern Australia, having recovered from historic overfishing.


The specific name sorrah is the Tamil word for shark.

Species Citation

Carcharias (Prionodon) sorrah Valenciennes, in Müller & Henle 1839, Systematische Beschreibung der Plagiostomen: 45, pl. 16. Type locality: Java (Lectotype)


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


Atlas of Living Australia

Spot-tail Shark, Carcharhinus sorrah (Valenciennes 1839)


Alastair, V.H., & Tobin, A.J. & Simpfendorfer, C.A. 2013. Age, growth and reproductive biology of the spot-tail shark, Carcharhinus sorrah, and the Australian blacktip shark, C. tilstoni, from the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, north-eastern Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 64(4): 277-293.

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.

Davenport, S. & Stevens, J.D. 1988. Age and growth of two commercially important sharks (Carcharhinus tilstoni and C. sorrah) from Northern Australia. Australian Journal Marine Freshwater Research 39: 417-433.

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

Giles, J., Ovenden, J., Dharmadi, D., et al. 2014. Extensive genetic population structure in the Indo–West Pacific spot-tail shark, Carcharhinus sorrah. Bulletin of Marine Science 90.

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.  

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)

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia 2, 550 pp.  

Lavery, S. & Shacklee, J.B. 1989. Population genetics of two tropical sharks, Carcharhinus tilstoni and C. sorrah, in Northern Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 40: 541-557.

Ovenden, J.R. 2007. Ch. 3 Objective 2 Populations structure of blacktip sharks. pp. 41-57 in Salini, J., McAuley, R., Blaber, S., et al. (eds). Northern Australian sharks and rays: the sustainability of target and bycatch species, phase 2. Project No. 2002/064, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Cleveland, Queensland.

Ovenden, J., Kashiwagi, T., Broderick, D., et al. 2009. The extent of population genetic subdivision differs among four co-distributed shark species in the Indo-Australian archipelago. BMC Evolutionary Biology 9: 40.

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. 

Simpfendorfer, C., Derrick, D., Tanay, D., et al. 2021. Carcharhinus sorrah. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T161376A173434793. Accessed on 10 August 2023.

Stevens, J.D. & Davenport, S.R. 1991. Analysis of catch data from the Taiwanese gillnet fishery off northern Australia, 1979-1986. Australian CSIRO Marine Laboratories.

Stevens, J.D. & Wiley, P.D. 1986. Biology of two commercially important carcharhinid sharks from northern Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 37: 671-688.

Stevens, J.D., West, G.J. & McLoughlin, K.J. 2000. Movement, recapture patterns, and factors affecting the return rate of carcharhinid and other sharks tagged off northern Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 51: 127-141.

Valenciennes, A. 1839, in Müller, J. & Henle, F.G.J. 1839. Systematische Beschreibung der Plagiostomen. Berlin : Veit & Co. pp. 29-102 pls.

White, W.T. 2007. Aspects of the biology of carcharhiniform sharks in Indonesian waters. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 87: 1269-1276.

White, W.T., Last, P.R., Stevens, J.D., Yearsley, G.K., Fahmi & Dharmadi. 2006. Economically Important Sharks and Rays of Indonesia. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra, Australia. 

Whitley, G.P. 1947. New sharks and fishes from Western Australia. Part 3. The Australian Zoologist 11(2): 129-150 figs 1-3 pl. 11 (described as Galeolamna (Galeolamnoides) isobel, type locality Long Island, between Cape Preston and the Mary Anne Group, Western Australia)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37018013

Biology:Live Bearer

Conservation:IUCN Near Threatened

Depth:0-140 m


Habitat:Coastal, pelagic

Max Size:196 cm TL

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