Whitetip Reef Shark, Triaenodon obesus (Rüppell 1837)

Other Names: Blunthead Shark, Whitetip Shark, White-tip Shark, White-tipped Reef Shark

A Whitetip Reef Shark, Triaenodon obesus, in Malaysia. Source: Will White. License: All rights reserved


This small slender grey shark becoming paler below, with white tips on the first dorsal fin and upper caudal-fin lobe, and sometimes on the second dorsal fin and lower caudal-fin lobe. The short snout is very broad, and the second dorsal-fin is almost equal in size to the first dorsal fin.

These mostly nocturnal sharks spend much of the day resting in caves, under ledges or on sandy patches out in the open. At dusk they actively hunt, often entering caves and crevices in search of fishes, octopus, lobsters and crabs.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Triaenodon obesus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Jul 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1967

Whitetip Reef Shark, Triaenodon obesus (Rüppell 1837)

More Info


Point Quobba, Western Australia and Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, to Moreton Bay, Queensland and reefs in the Coral Sea; also Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the tropical, Indo-Pacific.

Inhabits clear coral reefs, often resting in caves, under ledges or on sandy patches during the day.


  • Snout very short and broad;
  • Second dorsal fin almost equal in size to first dorsal fin.
  • Size

    Although the maximum total length is about 2 metres, individuals rarely attain a length of more than 160 cm TL.


    Carnivore - typically feeds on fishes, cephalopod molluscs and crustaceans.


    Whitetip Reef Sharks mature at a length of about 105 cm. Females produce litters of 1-5 pups, born at lengths of 52-60 cm after a gestation period of at least five months. Individuals may attain sexual maturity may after 8-9 years and the life span is about 16 years. 

    Species Citation

    Carcharias obesus Rüppell 1837, Fische des Rothen Meeres 3: 64, pl. 18(2). Type locality: Djedda, Red Sea.


    Dianne J. Bray


    Australian Faunal Directory

    Whitetip Reef Shark, Triaenodon obesus (Rüppell 1837)


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  • Compagno, L.J.V., Dando, M. & Fowler, S. 2005. A Field Guide to the Sharks of the World. London : Collins 368 pp.
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  • Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & P.J. Kailola, 1984. Trawled fishes of southern Indonesia and northwestern Australia. Australian Development Assistance Bureau, Australia, Directorate General of Fishes, Indonesia, and German Agency for Technical Cooperation, Federal Republic of Germany. 407 p.
  • Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp. (as Triaenodon apicalis)
  • Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 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.
  • 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)
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  • Rüppell, W.P.E. 1837. Neue Wirbelthiere zu der Fauna von Abyssinien gehörig. Fische des Rothen Meeres. Frankfurt Vol. 3, pp. 53–80, pls 15–21.
  • Russell, B.C. & W. Houston, 1989. Offshore fishes of the Arafura Sea. The Beagle 6(1): 69-84.
  • Smale, M.J. 2005. Triaenodon obesus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2005: e.T39384A10188990. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2005.RLTS.T39384A10188990.en. Downloaded on 18 November 2016.
  • Stead, D.G. 1963. Sharks and Rays of Australian Seas. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 211 pp. 63 figs. (as Triaenodon apicalis)
  • Tricas, T.C. & E.M. LeFeuvre. 1985. Mating in the reef white-tip shark, Triaenodon obesus. Marine Biology 84: 233-237.
  • Whitley, G.P. 1939. Taxonomic notes on sharks and rays. The Australian Zoologist 9(3): 227-262 figs 1-18 pls 20-22 (as Triaenodon apicalis)
  • 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.(as Triaenodon apicalis)
  • Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37018038

    Conservation:IUCN Near Threatened

    Danger:Potentially dangerous

    Depth:8-40 m, rarely to 300 m

    Habitat:Reef associated

    Max Size:213 cm TL

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