Fun Grey Reef Shark Facts For Kids

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Oct 20, 2022 By Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Grey reef shark facts on sharks who prefer living near coral reef in shallow waters

Searching for a reef shark, medium in size and yet dominant? Well, the grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) is the answer you seek.

They are one of the most common reef sharks with strong predatory characteristics. Grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) is found in the Pacific and Indian oceans and resides around coral reef in shallow waters. Grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) are also known as blacktail reef shark and blacktip reef shark.

This species is categorized as Near Threatened and features in the list of endangered species. The reason behind the grey reef shark (Carcharhinus Amblyrhynchos) being Near Threatened is commercial fishing and destruction of the habitat.

The first dorsal fin of the shark is gray in color, though it may have white edges. The pelvic pins have dusky or black tips while the pectoral fins are black in color.

There is a broad black band on the posterior margin of the caudal fin. Read on to quench your curiosity about facts about the grey reef shark. After reading all the interesting grey reef shark facts, you may also look at Swai Fish and Caribbean reef shark.

Grey Reef Shark Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a grey reef shark?

Grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos), belonging to the requiem sharks species in the Carcharhinidae family, is one among the commonest reef sharks to be found in the Indo-Pacific oceans. Just like a common reef shark, these have a broad and round snout.

They are fast-swimming and agile predators which dominate the species of shark at the reefs, despite the moderate size it possesses.

Rather than being territorial, these are social beasts and are usually found numbering between 5-10 sharks around the coral reefs. These sharks are popularly known for their performance of threat displays before attacking and are also guilty of attacking a large number of humans.

What class of animal does a grey reef shark belong to?

Gray Reef shark is a member of the requiem sharks species, belong to the class Chondrichthyes.

They have a typical body of reef sharks which is distinct from other sharks of the same species because of the presence of a primary dorsal fin that maybe white-tipped or plain.

These sharks are broadly rounded snout, they have tips on the rest of the fins that are dark in color and there is a lack of ridge between dorsal fins with a rear margin black in color located on the fin at the tail.

How many grey reef sharks are there in the world?

There is no absolute count of the number of gray reef sharks in the world but the numbers of this species are known to decrease over the years due to potential threats from humans and larger animals.

Where does a gray reef shark live?

Gray reef sharks have their habitat in the shallow water near the drop-offs of coral reefs. In the indo-pacific region, gray reef shark species are quite abundant and can easily be found in the region. They are usually found in depths less than 60 m or 200 ft.

What is a gray reef shark's habitat?

Gray reef sharks are found to inhabit coastal, shallow waters of Indo-Pacific oceans. Their habitat in the Indian Ocean stretches from India to as far as South Africa, including nearby islands, French Polynesia, the Maldives, and the Red Sea. These sharks are located around South China to as far as New Zealand and northern Australia in the Pacific ocean.

They are also found near the continental shelves and in coral reefs, they can be located around the leeward sides with rugged topography and pristine waters. External edges of the drop-offs, especially around the reef channels that have very strong currents also form the habitat of gray reef sharks.

Who do gray reef sharks live with?

Rather than being territorial in nature, gray reef sharks are social animals. These species are often found in pairings of 5-20 individuals around edges of coral reefs during the day and during the evening, they split up to hunt the prey.

Adult females are also known to create groups in shallow water because of the favorable higher temperature for the acceleration of their growth and also of the growth of their young ones.

These sharks coexist with the black tip reef sharks in some areas with the latter occupying the shallow regions and the former found at great depths. They are also found among some sandbar sharks due to similar diets.

How long does a gray reef shark live?

The grey reef sharks, if not hunted, can have a life expectancy of 25 years or more.

How do they reproduce?

Grey reef sharks, being a member of the requiem shark species, reproduce in a viviparous manner. Sexual maturation occurs at the age of seven with males measuring 1.3-1.5 m while females, 1.2-1.4 m in length.

Each female has a single functional ovary on the right side and two functional uteri.

While mating, in order to copulate, the male shark bites the female shark’s fins or the body for balance and holds onto the female for proper copulation. The embryos that are developing in the pregnant female sharks generally exhaust the yolk supply and the sac carrying the yolk forms into a placenta that helps in sustaining them.

After a gestation period of 9-14 months, four pups measuring a length of 45-60 cm or 18-24 in are born.

What is their conservation status?

Grey reef sharks are termed as an endangered species because of their depleting population because of the low rate of reproduction, territorial nature, and special requirements for habitat. The depletion can be attributed to their export to multi-species fisheries to be used as shark fin soup and fish meal.

Another threat to the existence of grey reef sharks is the continuous degradation of coral reefs from human development.

Grey Reef Shark Fun Facts

What do grey reef sharks look like?

The gray reef shark belonging to the requiem sharks species are known to have a body that is streamlined and stout. They also have a broadly rounded snout that is blunt and long around the round and large eyes.

The foremost dorsal fin is neither very big nor very small. It is of medium size without any ridges around the first dorsal fin and the secondary dorsal fin.

Also, the pectoral fins are sickle-shaped and generally narrow. There is a broad black band on the posterior margin of the caudal fin.

They usually have a gray coloration above with a white below and a  bronzish sheen. They have 13-15 teeth in each of the jaws.

Though, these teeth do differ in appearance, with the teeth in the lower jaw having a narrower shape and erect cusps while the upper teeth are triangular in shape with cusps that are a bit slanted.

A gray reef shark is also known as a bronze whaler shark.

How cute are they?

The varied coloration of the grey reef sharks makes them absolutely cute and beautiful to look at. However, they are unfit to be kept as pets due to their tendency to attack humans.

How do they communicate?

Grey reef sharks are known to communicate through basic auditory, visual, tactile, and olfactory signals. They locate their prey through a strong sense of smell and electro-reception signals.

How big is a grey reef shark?

These are medium-sized requiem sharks with an average length of 1.9 m or 6.2 ft and an average weight of 42 lb. The maximum length that has been reported for the shark is 2.6 m or 8.5 ft and the maximum weight of the shark reported is 74 lb.

How fast can a grey reef shark swim?

Grey reef sharks are considered as extremely fast swimmers superior to other reef inhabitants. The speed increases to an extreme while chasing and has been recorded to be around 33 mph.

How much does a grey reef shark weigh?

Grey reef sharks are medium-sized requiem sharks with an average weight of 42 lb. However, a maximum of 74 lb weight has been recorded of grey reef sharks.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Like most other sharks, the males are called male sharks and the females are called female sharks.

What would you call a baby grey reef shark?

Grey reef sharks, belonging to the requiem shark species reproduce in a viviparous manner with average little size of one to four young ones who are known as pups. In some cases, the females are known to give birth to even six pups after completion of the gestation period.

What do they eat?

Grey reef sharks generally consume bony fishes along with various cephalopods like octopus and squids. Apart from these, crustaceans like lobsters and crabs also make up a huge chunk of their diet.

Are they dangerous?

Grey reef sharks are dangerous to humans if threatened, cornered, or photographed. There are many attacks listed in the name of the species though none being fatal. The divers are advised to retreat if they encounter a grey reef shark performing threat displays and avoid photographing it.

Would they make a good pet?

Grey reef sharks are regarded as dangerous to humans and many attacks have been listed in the name of this species. Hence, they are unfit to be kept as a pet.

Did you know...

This shark was the first species to be popularly known for their performance of threat displays before attacking which is also common among the other species of sharks. The display is particularly a warning prior to attacks.

It involves a hunching posture, dropped pectoral fins and sideways swimming motion. The shark has been found raising the snout, arching the back of its body in order to curve it laterally prior to making any exaggerated swimming motions.

The display intensity increases with the increasing closeness of the threat which may be a diver or a submersible. These displays have often been followed by attacks and you must retreat once you envision a grey reef shark performing the display.

Grey reef shark attacks

A gray reef shark is curious in nature, especially when it comes to the divers and they often grow dangerous and violent when they sense the food’s presence which gets enhanced when located near open waters than the reefs.

Many attacks have been registered in the name of grey reef sharks on spearfishers, though as an attempt to strike the spear fish rather than the diver.

They are also found to attack when they are being cornered or pursued and if they start to perform their threat display, then it is advisory for the divers to retreat.

Attempts to photograph the threat display must be avoided as there are cases where the divers have been attacked due to the camera flash.

Though only of moderate size, a gray reef shark has the tendency to cause major injuries to humans and significant damage to submarines. According to reports, in the year 2008, there were at least seven unprovoked attacks and six provoked gray reef shark attacks. Fortunately, none of these gray reef shark attacks were fatal in nature.

Do they have their own predators?

Some of the larger sharks such as the silvertip shark prey on the grey reef sharks. Additionally, hammerhead sharks also prey on the grey reef sharks when they are tired and vulnerable due to exhaustion chasing around their mate.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including zebra shark, or fluke fish.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Grey Reef sharks coloring pages.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason

Bachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason picture

Adekunle Olanrewaju JasonBachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

With over 3+ years of professional experience, Olanrewaju is a certified SEO Specialist and Content Writer. He holds a BSc in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. Throughout his dynamic career, Olanrewaju has successfully taken on various roles with startups and established organizations. He has served as a Technical Writer, Blogger, SEO Specialist, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing Manager. Known for his hardworking nature and insightful approach, Olanrewaju is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement.
Read full bio >