Bronze Whaler Shark

Carcharhinus brachyurus

Last updated: July 8, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit Ian Scott/Shutterstock.com

The Bronze Whaler Sharks only hunt in large groups.

Bronze Whaler Shark Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Chondrichthyes
Order
Selachimorpha
Family
Carcharhinidae
Genus
Carcharhinus
Scientific Name
Carcharhinus brachyurus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Bronze Whaler Shark Conservation Status

Bronze Whaler Shark Locations

Bronze Whaler Shark Locations

Bronze Whaler Shark Facts

Prey
Squids, octopuses, sardines, flatfish, and mullets.
Main Prey
Sardines
Name Of Young
pup
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
Fun Fact
The Bronze Whaler Sharks only hunt in large groups.
Estimated Population Size
N/A
Biggest Threat
Humans
Most Distinctive Feature
Narrowly triangular hook-shaped teeth.
Distinctive Feature
slightly arched profile behind the head
Other Name(s)
Copper sharks
Gestation Period
12 months
Litter Size
7 to 24
Habitat
shallow bays and estuaries, inshore and continental shelf areas.
Predators
Humans
Diet
Carnivore
Average Litter Size
7-24
Favorite Food
Sardines, Squids and Ocotopuses,
Type
Shark
Common Name
Bronze-Whaler Shark

Bronze Whaler Shark Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Green
  • Olive
Skin Type
Skin
Lifespan
25-30
Weight
305lbs
Length
206-235
Age of Sexual Maturity
13-18 years
Age of Weaning
N/a
Venomous
No
Aggression
Medium

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“The Bronze Whaler Sharks only hunt in large groups”

Also known as the Copper Shark, the Bronze Whaler Shark’s scientific name is Carcharhinus brachyurus. It may also be referred to as the narrow-tooth shark. This shark is a species of requiem shark known to exhibit viviparity. This means birth to live young as mammals do. The Carcharhinus is also one of the few species of shark that live in temperate waters instead of tropical waters. 

Bronze Whaler Shark Facts

  • Viviparous: The Bronze whaler shark is a viviparous fish. This means the female carries the young as mammals do, and they’re born alive after developing inside her. 
  • Sensitive to salinity: The bronze whaler is sensitive to the salinity of the water around it and migrates accordingly. 
  • Group hunters: Bronze whaler sharks tend to hunt in large groups, which is often used as an advantage, especially when they encounter larger prey 
  • Juveniles live in shallow water: Young bronze whaler sharks remain in shallow waters of less than 30 meters until they become adults. 
  • Male and female bronze whaler sharks don’t live in the same location.

Bronze Whaler Shark Classification and Scientific name

The Bronze Whaler Shark goes by the scientific name of Carcharhinus brachyurus. It belongs to the order Carcharhiniformes, which is considered the largest order of sharks on earth. It belongs to the family Carcharhinidae along with seven other shark families. 

The family Carcharhinidae, where is shark belongs is also known as Requiem sharks. These migratory sharks live most of their life in the warm seas. However, they may also live in brackish or even fresh water. Requiem sharks are known to give birth to live young. 

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Bronze Whaler Shark Appearance 

The bronze whaler shark is a large fish with a classic shark appearance. It features a long and moderately rounded snout with narrow hook-shaped teeth. The male and female have similar appearances, although the male is slightly bigger. The males also have proportionately longer teeth. 

Bronze whaler sharks typically grow to a maximum size of around 295 cm. However, there are rare records of lengths as high as 350cm. Copper sharks have circular and relatively large eyes. Their pectoral fins are moderately large and typically feature narrowly rounded or pointed tips. They do not have an inner dorsal fin. However, their caudal fin typically features a bulge close to the base of its front edge. 



The dorsal side of the Bronze whaler shark is bronzy gray or olive-gray, which is where the name comes from. The ventral surface is white. They have some dark markings on the edge of their fins. These markings are quite similar to that of the blacktip shark or spinner shark. This is why both species are often confused with each other. Their main distinguishing feature is the distinctive upper teeth and the lack of pronounced markings. They also don’t have an inner dorsal ridge like these other species. 

Bronze whaler shark swims through a sardine bait ball looking to fee during the sardine run on the east coast of South Africa.
Bronze whaler shark swims through a sardine bait ball looking to feed during the sardine run on the east coast of South Africa.

wildestanimal/Shutterstock.com

Bronze Whaler Shark Distribution, Population, and Habitat

The Bronze Whaler Shark is typically found in temperate waters and live together in large groups. You’re likely to find them in the deep waters of the Atlantic, usually off the coast of Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. However, they may also venture close to the coastlines of various offshore islands, artificial harbors, and inlet waterways. 

Some populations of Copper Sharks have been spotted in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Argentina, around the Gulf of Mexico, and in the Indo-Pacific regions. Bronze Whalers are highly migratory. They change locations with the seasons and may also move due to changes in salinity. Males and females do not live together except during mating season. 

Where to find: Bronze Whaler and How to Catch Them

The UN has designated the Bronze Whaler shark as near threatened because the species population is growing thinner due to commercial fishing. Like most sharks, the species also has a low reproduction rate which is another reason for the declining population. Currently, there is a catch and release program in New Zealand and Namibia to preserve the population of copper sharks. Commercial fishing is not allowed in these places, and hobby or recreational fishers must release their catch back to the sea. 

Copper sharks live in deep waters of about 100 meters deep (330 feet). However, juveniles may stay in shallow waters until they’re older. They also tend to migrate towards the coast during spring and summer time. The shark is sensitive to water salinity and tends to migrate to different places based on changes in water salinity. They may also migrate based on food availability, temperature changes, and reproductive reasons. 

Bronze Whaler Shark Predators and Prey

Bronze whaler sharks are fast-swimming predators that feed mainly on cephalopods and bony fishes. However, they may also feed on other cartilaginous fishes. Copper sharks hunt in large groups, which allows them to utilize their numbers to their advantage. 

What does a bronze whaler eat? 

Bronze whaler sharks have a diverse diet that may consist of cephalopods such as squids and octopuses. They also feed on bony fishes such as sardines, flatfish, and mullets. During the winter months, large populations of copper sharks follow shoals of sardines on the migratory journey along the coast of Southern Natal. Adults may also attack other cartilaginous fish like sharks and stingrays.

What eats bronze whaler 

Larger sharks can prey on juvenile bronze whales. However, commercial and recreational fishing may be the biggest threat to the copper whale population. Humans fish copper sharks for food. Due to overfishing and the slow reproduction rate of this species, the IUN has certified the species as near threatened

Bronze Whaler Shark Reproduction and Lifespan

The copper shark is a viviparous placental species like other Requiem sharks. This means their young are carried in a placenta connected to the mother during gestation and born alive. The gestation period usually lasts about 12 months, and the species reproduce once every two years. 

Limited data is available regarding the copper shark’s reproduction. However, scientists believe that new pups are born between June to January. Female sharks can give birth to an average of 15 pups, and the juveniles remain in inshore bays until they’re mature enough to venture deeper into the water. 

The age of maturity for copper sharks is 13-19 years for males. Females become mature when they’re about 20 years old. The maximum lifespan is about 30 years for males, while females may live for about 25 years. 

Bronze Whaler Shark In Fishing And Cooking

Commercial fishing of Bronze Whaler Sharks occurs off the coast of Australia and New Zealand. However, most fisheries often end up taking dusky sharks and other sharks with a similar appearance. There are commercial fisheries off the coast of South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and China. Fishers usually catch them with gill nets or bottom longlines. However, bottom trawls and pelagic longlines may sometimes be used too. The meat is sold commercially for human consumption and is usually consumed salted.

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About the Author

Abdulmumin is a pharmacist and a top-rated freelance writer on Upwork. He can pretty much write on anything that can be researched on the internet. However, he particularly enjoys writing on health, technology and animals. He is inquisitive and currently aspires to become a software engineer. He loves animals, especially horses and would love to have one someday.

Bronze Whaler Shark FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Where are Bronze Whaler Sharks Found? 

Bronze whaler sharks are found mainly at temperate latitudes. They have a widely distributed habitat in the northeastern and southwestern Atlantic off the southern African coast. They’re also found around the northwestern and eastern Pacific areas off the coast of Australia and New Zealand.

Do Bronze Whalers attack humans?

Bronze whalers sometimes swim close to the shore, but they’re not aggressive. They rarely attack humans. However, they’re potentially dangerous, especially to surfers and spearfishers carrying fresh catch.

Is a bronze whaler a shark?

The bronze whaler is a large shark belonging to the Requiem shark family. It is also known as Copper Shark or a Narrowtooth shark.

Are bronze whaler sharks endangered? 

Bronze whaler sharks have been certified as near threatened by the IUN. They’re still fished commercially in various places. However, a catch and release program has been implemented to protect the species in countries like Namibia.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Shark Sider, Available here: https://www.sharksider.com/bronze-whaler-shark/
  2. Sharks, Available here: https://www.sharks.org/bronze-whaler-shark-carcharhinus-brachyurus
  3. Shark Watch SA, Available here: https://sharkwatchsa.com/en/blog/category/482/post/4144/a_closer_look_at_the_bronze_whaler_shark/
  4. Florida Museum, Available here: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-fish/species-profiles/carcharhinus-brachyurus/

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