Bronze Whaler, Carcharhinus brachyurus (Günther 1870)

Other Names: Black-tipped Whaler, Bronze Whaler Shark, Bronzie, Cocktail, Cocktail Shark, Copper Shark, Narrowtooth Shark, New Zealand Whaler

A Bronze Whaler, Carcharhinus brachyurus . Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved


A bronze to greyish-brown whaler shark grading to pale below, with an indistinct pale stripe anteriorly along the lower side from the pelvic fin, and sometimes darker fin tips. Bronze whalers have a large first dorsal fin that originates above the inner margin of the pectoral fin, no interdorsal ridge, a precaudal pit. The species also has large pectoral fins, and a large upper caudal-fin lobe.

The similar Galapagos Shark, Carcharhinus galapagensis, has a more slender body and a very erect first dorsal fin. 

This large shark occurs in coastal and continental shelf waters of southern Australia. While not usually aggressive, the species is potentially dangerous to humans.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Carcharhinus brachyurus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

Bronze Whaler, Carcharhinus brachyurus (Günther 1870)

More Info


Moreton Bay, Queensland, around southern Australia, to Shark Bay, Western Australia, including northern Tasmania. Observer records indicate that the Bronze Whaler may be much more widely-distributed, especially off Queensland and Western Australia. Elsewhere, the species occurs worldwide in warm temperate and subtropical coastal and continental shelf waters; absent from the eastern Pacific, and rare or absent in the tropics.

Bronze whalers frequently occur in shallow coastal waters, including bays, harbours and along surf beaches, especially during summer months. Individuals may also enter estuaries and large rivers. In Australia and New Zealand, they form loose aggregations in shallow inshore waters during spring and summer. 

The Bronze Whaler is most abundant in Australia between Bass Strait and Albany in the west, and is the most common species of Carcharhinus in South Australian and Victorian waters.


Vertebrae 179-203 (precaudal 96-110); Jaw teeth (upper) 15 or 16-2 or 3-15 or 16
Jaw teeth (lower): 15-1-15

Snout moderately long (length to mouth 5-10% TL), pointed; upper teeth of adult males longer and more hooked near tips than in females; first dorsal-fin origin over or just anterior to free rear tip of pectoral fin, both sets of fins tapering distally, apices pointed or narrowly rounded; interdorsal ridge usually absent.


295 cm TL


Bronze to greyish brown above, pale below, with an indistinct band anteriorly on sides from pelvic fin to above pectoral fin; fin margins and fin tips sometimes darker.


Feeds on a wide range of bottom-dwelling and pelagic fishes and cephalopods; also known to eat jellyfishes and crustaceans.


Bronze Whalers are viviparous, with a yolk sac placenta. Females give birth to litters of 7-20 pups, born at 60-70 cmTL after about a 12 month gestation period. Males mature at about 2.35 m TL, and females at 2.45 m TL.


Often taken as bycatch in gill net, longline and trawl fisheries.


Bronze whalers are vulnerable to over fishing by targeted fisheries and as bycatch. They are also taken in shark-control nets set to protect swimmers at beaches.


Similar Species

Similar to the more slender Galapagos Shark, which has a very erect first dorsal fin. 


The specific name brachyurus is from the Greek brachys (= short) and oura (= tailed), although the caudal fin of this species is not short.

Species Citation

Carcharias brachyurus Günther, 1870, Cat. Fish. Brit. Mus. 8: 369. Type locality: Wanganui, New Zealand.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Bronze Whaler, Carcharhinus brachyurus (Günther 1870)


Benavides, M.T., Feldheim, K.A., Duffy, C.A., et al. 2011. Phylogeography of the copper shark (Carcharhinus brachyurus) in the southern hemisphere: implications for the conservation of a coastal apex predator. Marine and Freshwater Research 62: 861–869

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 4. Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. No. 125, vol. 4.

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.

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

Dapp, D.R., Huveneers, C., Walker, T.I., Drew, M. & Reina, R.D. 2016. Moving from Measuring to Predicting Bycatch Mortality: Predicting the Capture Condition of a Longline-Caught Pelagic Shark. Frontiers in Marine Science 2: 126.

Dudley, S.F.J. 1997. A comparison of the shark control programs of New South Wales and Queensland (Australia) and KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa). Ocean and Coastal Management 34: 1-27.

Dudley, S.F.J., Haestier, R.C., Cox, K.R. & Murray, M. 1998. Shark control: experimental fishing with baited drumlines. Marine and Freshwater Research 49: 653-61.

Garrick, J.A.F. 1982. Sharks of the genus Carcharhinus. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Technical Report, National Marine Fisheries Service Circular 445.

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.  

Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2021. Complete list of fishes recorded from the Perth Coast (Mandurah to Two Rocks). pp. 262-273 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds) The Perth coast fish book. Identification guide Mandurah to Two Rocks. 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.

Huveneers, C., Rigby, C.L., Dicken, M., Pacoureau, N. & Derrick, D. 2020. Carcharhinus brachyurus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T41741A2954522. Downloaded on 16 December 2020.

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.

Kuiter, R.H. & Kuiter, S.L. 2018. Fish watchers guide to coastal sea-fishes of south-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 371 pp.

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. 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. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO, Australia.

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 for Commercial Fishers. Sydney : New South Wales Department of Primary Industry 71 pp.

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp.

Pepperell, J.G. 1992. Trends in the distribution, species composition and size of sharks caught by gamefish anglers off south-eastern Australia, 1961-90. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43: 213-25.

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

Rogers, P.J., Huveneers, C., Goldsworthy, S.D., et al.  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

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

Walker, T.I. 1998. Can shark resources be harvested sustainably? A question revisited with a review of shark fisheries. Marine and Freshwater Research 49: 553-72.

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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37018001

Conservation:IUCN Vulnerable

Danger:Potentially dangerous to humans

Depth:0-100 m

Habitat:Bays, harbours, coastal waters

Max Size:295 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map