Carcharhinidae (requiem sharks)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) >.Chondrichthyes > Elasmobranchii > Galeomorphii > Carcharhiniformes

Mostly large sharks with bladelike teeth, precaudal pits, a scroll intestinal valve, and usually round eyes, no spiracles, short labial furrows, and a small 2nd dorsal fin. Most are placental livebearers. 50 species, 21 in the area.

Species in seas off southern Africa

Carcharhinus albimarginatus (Silvertip shark)

A large, slim dark grey shark with striking white tips and posterior margins on all fins. 1st dorsal and pectoral fins angular and not expanded, upper teeth triangular, underside white

Carcharhinus altimus (Bignose shark)

A cylindrical, heavy-bodied greyish shark with a large, long, broad snout, long nasal flaps, prominent high interdorsal ridge, high triangular saw-edged upper teeth, large straight pectoral and dorsal fins, and no conspicuous markings. Underside white.

Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos (Gray reef shark)

A moderate-sized stout grey shark with a moderately long, broadly rounded snout, round eyes, narrow-cusped teeth, no interdorsal ridge, white tip on 1st dorsal fin, black tips on 2nd dorsal and anal fin, and a conspicuous broad black band on rear edge of caudal fin.

 

Carcharhinus amboinensis (Pigeye or Java shark)

A large, massive, thick-headed greyish shark with a short, broad, blunt snout, small eyes, large triangular saw-edged upper teeth, high erect 1st dorsal fin at least 3.2 times 2nd dorsal height, no interdorsal ridge, and no conspicuous markings on fins. Underside white, fin tips dusky.

Carcharhinus brachyurus (Copper shark or bronze whaler)

A large grey to bronzy shark with a bluntly pointed broad snout, narrow bent cusps on upper teeth, no interdorsal ridge, and dusky or blackish fin tips. Underside white, fins not boldly marked.

Carcharhinus brevipinna (Spinner shark)

A slender grey shark with a long narrow pointed snout, small 1st dorsal fin, small narrow-cusped teeth, long gill slits, long upper labial furrows, no interdorsal ridge, and with labial furrows longer than any other gray shark. Often abruptly black tips on most fins, young may lack black tips; underside white.

Carcharhinus falciformis (Silky shark)

A large slim oceanic grey shark with moderately long, flat rounded snout, small jaws, large eyes, oblique-cusped serrated upper teeth, 1st dorsal behind pectorals, 2nd dorsal low and with a greatly elongated rear tip, and no conspicuous fin markings. Underside white.

Carcharhinus leucas (Zambezi shark)

A large, massive, thick-headed greyish shark with a short, broad, blunt snout, small eyes, triangular saw-edged upper teeth, broad triangular 1st dorsal fin less than 3.2 times 2nd dorsal height, no interdorsal ridge, and no conspicuous markings on fins. Underside white, fin tips dusky.

Carcharhinus limbatus (Blacktip shark)

A stout grey shark with a long narrow pointed snout, high 1st dorsal fin, narrow-cusped erect upper teeth, long gill slits, no interdorsal ridge, and often abruptly black fin tips. White on underside, adults may lack black tips.

Carcharhinus longimanus (Oceanic whitetip shark)

A stocky grey or brownish oceanic shark with huge rounded 1st dorsal fin, and wide-tipped, long pectoral fins. Snout bluntly rounded, upper teeth triangular, interdorsal ridge present. Underside white, fins with prominent white-mottled tips; juveniles have black tips on some fins and black patches on the caudal peduncle.

Carcharhinus melanopterus (Blacktip reef shark)

A small brownish-grey shark with a short bluntly rounded snout, oval eyes, narrow-cusped teeth, no interdorsal ridge, a large 2nd dorsal fin, and abruptly black fin tips, highlighted by white. Underside whit

Carcharhinus obscurus (Dusky shark)

A large grey to bronzy shark with a broadly rounded snout, triangular saw-edged upper teeth, curved moderate-sized pectoral fins, an interdorsal ridge, and dusky fin tips. Underside white, fins not boldly marked.

Carcharhinus plumbeus (Sandbar shark)

A stout grey-brown or bronzy shark with a moderately long rounded snout, very large erect first dorsal fin, high triangular saw-edged upper teeth, an interdorsal ridge, and no prominent markings. Underside white

Carcharhinus sealei (Blackspot shark)

A small slender grey shark with a long rounded snout, large oval eyes, oblique-cusped teeth, and a conspicuous black spot on the 2nd dorsal fin. White below, other fins plain.

Carcharhinus signatus (Night shark)

A slim semi-oceanic grey shark with a very long, pointed snout, small jaws, small pectoral fins, large eyes, oblique-cusped serrated upper teeth, front of 1st dorsal over pectoral fins, 1st and 2nd dorsals low and with elongated rear tips, an interdorsal ridge, and no conspicuous fin markings. Upper surface grey-brown, underside

Carcharhinus sorrah (Spottail shark)

A small, spindle-shaped grey shark with a long rounded snout, large circular eyes, oblique-cusped serrated teeth, an interdorsal ridge, a very low, elongated 2nd dorsal fin, black tips on the pectoral and 2nd dorsal fins, and a conspicuous black spot on the lower caudal lobe. White below, 1st dorsal fin with a black edge.

Galeocerdo cuvier (Tiger shark)

A huge striped shark with a broad, bluntly rounded snout, long upper labial furrows, a big mouth with large, saw-edged, cockscomb-shaped teeth, spiracles, and low caudal keels. Colour grey above with vertical black to dark grey bars and spots, bold in young but fading in adults; white below.

Loxodon macrorhinus (Sliteye shark)

A small, very slim, grey to brownish shark with a long narrow snout, big eyes with rear notches, short labial furrows, small smooth-edged oblique-cusped teeth, small low 2nd dorsal fin behind larger anal fin, interdorsal ridge absent or rudimentary. Underside white, fins with inconspicuous light rear edges and black margin on 1st dorsal and caudal.

Negaprion acutidens (Sharptooth lemon shark)

A big, stocky, yellowish shark with the 2nd dorsal fin as large as the 1st, a broad, blunt snout, and narrow, smooth-cusped teeth in both jaws.

Prionace glauca (Blue shark)

A slim, graceful, blue shark with a long conical snout, large eyes, curved, saw-edged, triangular upper teeth, long narrow pectoral fins, 1st dorsal fin well behind pectorals, and no interdorsal ridge. Upper surface dark blue, sides bright blue, underside white.

Rhizoprionodon acutus (Milk shark)

A small grey or grey-brown shark with a long narrow snout, big eyes without notches, long labial furrows, small smooth-edged or weakly serrated oblique-cusped teeth, small low 2nd dorsal fin behind larger anal fin, and no interdorsal ridge. Underside white, no fin markings.

 

Scoliodon laticaudus (Spadenose shark)

 

Triaenodon obesus (Whitetip reef shark)

A small, slender grey shark with an extremely short, broad, snout, oval eyes, 1st dorsal fin behind pectorals, 2nd dorsal nearly as large as first, conspicuous white tips on the 1st dorsal and upper caudal fin, and no interdorsal ridge. Underside lighter, sometimes dark spots on sides.

Text by Leonard J.V. Compagno, David A. Ebert and Malcolm J. Smale 


  Iziko Museums of Cape Town, 2008

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