Go back

Blacktip Reef Shark

Manō Pā‘ele

Of the 40 species of sharks found in Hawai‘i, the blacktip reef shark is amongst the most common due to the areas it inhabits. The blacktip reef shark prefers shallow, inshore areas where it is less vulnerable to larger species of sharks in the open ocean.

The blacktip reef shark is easily identified by the prominent blacktips on its fins. In Hawai‘i, blacktip reef sharks will reach an average of 5.5 feet in length.

Females will reach sexual maturity at about 3.2 feet in length and males mature at about 3 feet. Blacktip reef sharks have live birth with a gestation period of up to 14 months. In Hawai‘i, pupping season is July to September typically having litters of 2-5 pups.

Like all sharks, the blacktip reef shark has exceptional sensory systems. From there keen sense of smell to having the ability to see in low light condition, these adaptation have made them prestige at tracking down there prey. Sharks also have an additional sixth sense where they can sense electromagnetic fields in the water.

Did You Know...
The ampullae of Lorenzini, located in the snout region, enable a shark to detect its prey without physically seeing it.

Typically a solitary animal, juvenile blacktip reef sharks will commonly conjugate in shallow regions during high tide. Vulnerable to larger predators, they will reside in shallower areas until larger in size. Blacktip reef sharks tend to be more active during dawn and dusk, but like most sharks they are opportunistic feeders. Their diet consists of crustaceans, squid, octopus, and bony fish.

Despite sharks being portrayed as notorious aggressive animals, very few incidents have involved blacktip reef sharks, none being fatal. Still the importance of an apex predator is vital to a balanced and healthy ecosystem. Unfortunately, this species is very susceptible to reef gill netting. And sharks all around continue to be threatened by fishing pressure resulting in a decrease in many shark populations.

*Due to the constant rotation of animals back to the ocean, the presence of any specific animal cannot be guaranteed.

Hawaiian Name:
Manō Pā‘ele
Scientific Name:
Carcharhinus melanopterus
Where to See:
Deep Reef, Open Ocean*
Next Up
Tiger Shark
Tiger Shark
Tiger sharks are common in coastal waters worldwide in tropical and temperate waters. It has a distinct broadly rounded snout with distinct serrated teeth. Juveniles have distinct spotting pattern and...
Read more
Whitetip Reef Shark
Whitetip Reef Shark
Associated with the coral reef environment, the whitetip reef shark is found throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In the Hawaiian Islands, it can be observed resting in caves or under ledges for ...
Read more
Broad Stingray
Broad Stingray
The broad stingray is found only in Hawaii and Taiwan. Most researchers agree their populations are plentiful. It is one of four species known to inhabit Hawaiian waters and belongs to the suborder el...
Read more
Discover Maui's Marine Habitat
Exhibits
Open Ocean
Take a stroll through the 35-foot long acrylic tunnel as sharks soar above your head. Watch elegant eagle rays turn backflips in our 750,000-gallon Open Ocean tank—a sl...
Read more
Open Ocean
Exhibits
Humpbacks of Hawaiʻi Exhibit & Sphere
Explore the realm of the whales in our virtual sphere experience.
Read more
HUMPBACK WHALES IN MAUI
Exhibits
Turtle Lagoon
Say aloha to the honu, our charismatic Hawaiian green sea turtles!
Read more
Benefits of membership