Triaenodon obesus

(Rüppell, 1837)

Whitetip reef shark
Classification: Elasmobranchii Carcharhiniformes Carcharhinidae

Reference of the original description
Rüppell, W.P.E.S.E. (1837)
Neue Wirbelthiere zu der Fauna von Abyssinien gehörig: Fische des rothen Meeres. Frankfurt am Main, 1837: pp. 53–80, pls. 15–21

Image of the original description

Triaenodon obesus (Rüppell, 1837), image of the first description in Rüppell, plate 18, fig. 2

Synonyms / new combinations and misspellings
Carcharhinus obesus, Carcharias obesus, Leptocharias obesus, Triaenodon apicalis, Triaenodon cf. obesus

Triaenodon obesus
Lectotype: SMF: 3149;
Triaenodon apicalis
Holotype: AMS: IA.6566; Paratype: AMS: IA.6565; AMS: IA.6565.001;

Description :

Citation: Triaenodon obesus (Rüppell, 1837): In: Database of modern sharks, rays and chimaeras,, World Wide Web electronic publication, Version 07/2024

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Triaenodon obesus (Rüppell, 1837), Maldives, Ari-Atoll, November 2013 © Joachim Seidel, Asslar, Germany
Common names
deu \(T\) Riffhai, deu \(T\) Weißspitzenhundshai, spa Cazón, spa Cazón coralero trompacorta, spa Tiburón coralero ñato, spa Tintorera punta aleta blanca, fra \(T\) Aileron blanc de lagon, fra \(T\) Endormi requin, fra \(T\) Requin corail, fra \(T\) Requin à pointes blanches, fra \(T\) Requin à pointes blanches du lagon, eng Blunt-head shark, eng Blunthead shark, eng Light-tip shark, eng Reef whitetip, eng Reef whitetip shark, eng White tip reef shark, eng White-tip reef shark, eng White-tip shark, eng Whitetip reef shark, eng Whitetip shark, por Marracho de covas

Short Description
A small, slender shark with an extremely short, broad snout, oval eyes, and conspicuous white tips on the 1st dorsal (sometimes 2nd) and upper caudal fins; 2nd dorsal almost as large as 1st; no interdorsal ridge [536]. Spiracles usually present, teeth 47-50/ 44-46, in at least 2 functional rows. Grey above, lighter below and sometimes with dark spots on sides [536]. First dorsal-fin lobe and dorsal caudal-fin lobe with conspicuous white tips, second dorsal-fin lobe and ventral caudal-fin lobe often white-tipped [544].

Indo-Pacific: Red Sea and East Africa to Indonesia and the Arafura Sea (Ref. 9819), north to Ryukyu and Ogasawara islands, south to New South Wales (Australia), New Caledonia, and the Austral and Pitcairn islands; throughout Micronesia. Eastern Pacific: Cocos and Galapagos islands, Panama to Costa Rica.
First record: 2016: coast of Jalisco, western Mexico [24902]
2017: Raoul and Meyer Islands, Kermadec Islands, New Zealand [25546] Source:

Human uses
fisheries: minor commercial; gamefish: yes; price category: medium; price reliability: very questionable: based on ex-vessel price for species in this family

Viviparous, placental [733], with 1 to 5 young per litter [517]; usually 2 or 3 pups after a gestation period of > 5 months [2539]. Size at birth 52-60 cm TL [544]. Distinct pairing with embrace [17086]. During courtship and prior to copulation, the male bites the female on her right pectoral fin and uses his medially flexed right clasper in copulation (Ref. 49562, 51119). During copulation which lasts from 15 seconds to 4 minutes (Ref. 49562, 51119), both heads of the male and female are slammed in the substrate and their bodies undulate to keep their tails elevated (Ref. 51155). This mating behavior was observed in individuals bred in captivity. Occurs on the continental shelf (Ref. 75154). Fees on fish and mollusks (Ref. 568). Frequently inhabits coral reefs of the IndoPacific Region [17641]. Cleaned by Elacatinus puncticulatus [20243].

Size / Weight / Age
213 cm TL (male/unsexed; [517]); max. published weight: 18.3 kg (Ref. 4699); max. reported age: 25 years (Ref. 6807)

reef-associated; marine; depth range 1 - 330 m [517], usually 8 - 40 m [517]

shark-references Species-ID=7227;

Parasites (arranged by Jürgen Pollerspöck)
  • Floriceps minacanthus Campbell & Beveridge, 1987 [21718]
  • Nybelinia indica Chandra, 1986 [21718]
  • Pseudogrillotia sp. [16112]