Shark Info Logo

Shark Info   (11-04-2002)



Shark Research Trip to the Gulf of Mexico

Shark Info

  Main article:

Shark Research Trip to the Gulf of Mexico

Dr. A. J. Godknecht, Dr. G. D. Guex

  Article 1:

Sharks in Research and Industry

Shark Info

  Article 2:

Pathological changes caused by fish hooks on the blue shark (Prionace glauca)

Shark Info

  Article 3:

Europe considers prohibiting finning

Shark Info

  Fact Sheet:

Spinner Shark

Shark Info

Fact Sheet: Spinner Shark


A tagged spinner shark (Carcharhinus brevipinna). The colored remains of the injected oxytetracyclin can still be seen around the tag below the dorsal fin (see "Shark Research Trip to the Gulf of Mexico" in this Shark Info).

© Mark Grace / Shark Foundation

German: Spinnerhai, Langnasenhai
English: Spinner shark, Longnose grey shark, Inkytail shark, Smoothfang shark
French: Requin tisserand
Spanish: Tiburon aleta negra

Biology of the spinner shark (Carcharhinus brevipinna)

Spinner sharks are a fast-swimming species of shark which often jumps out of the water (hence the name!). The reason for their “spinning” or spiral motion is the way in which they catch their prey. Climbing quickly within a shoal of fish, they snap on all sides while turning. Then they leap through the water’s surface, making no attempt to slow down before reaching the top.


Spinner sharks are large and slender and have a pointed snout. The first dorsal fin is relatively small and begins at the same height as the end of the pectoral fin or slightly behind it. Spinner sharks have no interdorsal ridge.


Their back is gray-bronze and their belly is white, and they have a thin white band along their flanks. Very noticeable are the black tips on both dorsal fins, pectoral and anal fins, as well as the lower lobus of the tail fin. Individuals smaller than 70 cm have no dark markings.


Western Atlantic: North Carolina down to Florida, the Bahamas, Cuba and the northern Gulf of Mexico (probably missing in the Caribbean), Brazil.
Southern Mediterranean: Off the coast of North Africa, Cape Verde Islands, Sierra Leone down to Angola.
Indian Ocean: Southeast Africa, Madagascar, the Seychelles, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden.
Western Central Pacific and also Australia. They are not found in the island regions of the Pacific.

Spinner sharks have a wide range and make seasonal migrations. They are found almost worldwide over the continental shelf, preferring shallow waters (less than 30 meters), but have also been seen in depths of approximately 75 meters.


Their average length is approximately 195 cm at a weight of 56 kg. The longest spinner shark found to date measured 278 cm.


They feed mainly on fish, preferring swarm fish such as sardines or herring. However, their food spectrum is very wide and also include tuna, grunt fish, lizard fish, etc., as well as mollusks, small sharks and rays.


Spinner sharks are viviparous and have a yolk sac placenta. They bear between 3 and 15 pups which measure between 60 and 75 cm at birth. Their gestation period is 12 to 15 months and the time of birth varies depending on the location: the summer months for animals in Senegal, Spring and early Summer in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. The young pups are born in coastal regions and grow quickly.

Similar Species

The spinner shark resembles several other shark species which are mostly only identifiable by specialists. The striking black coloring of the anal fins is, however, one clear characteristic recognizable in larger animals. This species is usually mistaken for the blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) which, however, contrary to the spinner sharks has a white anal fin with no black tip.

Encounters with Humans

There have been no reports on accidents with spinner sharks.


Status unknown.

May be published only by indicating the source: Shark Info



last change: 06-04-2016 11:48