Spinner Shark

Carcharhinus brevipinna

Last updated: July 19, 2021
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff

Can have up to 20 babies

Spinner Shark Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Carcharhinus brevipinna

Spinner Shark Conservation Status

Spinner Shark Locations

Spinner Shark Locations

Spinner Shark Facts

Group Behavior
  • Group
Fun Fact
Can have up to 20 babies
Estimated Population Size
Biggest Threat
Human exploitation, habitat loss
Most Distinctive Feature
Jumping and spinning
Other Name(s)
Blacktip shark, longnose gray whaler
Gestation Period
11 to 15 months
Water Type
  • Salt
Tropical and warm temperate waters
Favorite Food
Small bony fish ponds, streams, ocean, etc
Common Name
Spinner shark

Spinner Shark Physical Characteristics

  • Grey
  • Black
  • Light-Brown
Skin Type
15 to 20 years
120 to 200 pounds
6 to 9 feet

Spinner Shark Images

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The spinner shark is a slender, elegant shark that lives in temperate ocean waters.

It gets its name from its ability to spin through the water and into the air. It can also leap into the air from the water and spin several times in a row. With incredible speed and powerful jaws, the spinner shark is a highly successful predator.

The spinner shark is a member of the requiem shark family. Other requiem sharks are tiger sharks, blacktip sharks, grey reef sharks, and blue sharks.

The shark’s sleek, aerodynamic body is usually gray or silver in color with black tips on its fins. Because of those dark tips, it is frequently confused with the blacktip shark, but they are separate species.

5 Incredible Spinner Sharks Facts!

  • When chasing fish, the spinner shark spins while snapping its jaws.
  • A spinner shark can have up to 20 live babies, which are known as pups.
  • Spinner sharks can also spin and rotate up to three times while jumping into the air.
  • They prefer shallow waters close to the coastline.
  • Spinner sharks rarely attack humans.

Spinner Shark Classification and Scientific name

The spinner shark’s scientific name is Carcharhinus brevipinna.

Spinner Shark Appearance

A spinner shark’s length can range from 6 to 9 feet. They weigh from 120 to 200 pounds. Biologists note that spinner sharks from the Indian and Pacific oceans are usually larger than those in the Atlantic.

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They have 15 to 18 teeth in each half of their upper jaw and 14 to 17 in each half of their lower jaw. Their serrated teeth and serve them well as predators.

These sharks have long, sleek bodies and incredible speed. That makes them ideally suited to hunting schools of small fish. They swim through the schools, spinning and snapping their jaws to catch all the fish they can.

Their bodies are usually bronze or gray above and white below.

Spinner shark feeding on baitfish, Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.
Spinner shark feeding on baitfish, Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.

Spinner Shark Distribution, Population and Habitat

These sharks live in the warmer oceans of the Pacific, Indian, Mediterranean, and Caribbean. They prefer warmer water, and those in the colder Atlantic waters are usually migratory. They travel to warmer waters to fish and breed.
Spinner sharks have been spotted in the waters off Cuba, the Bahamas, Brazil, and Argentina. Many islands of the Indian Ocean, including Madagascar, have them in their waters. They have also been found in Australia, Sumatra, and Vietnam.

These sharks prefer shallow water that is no more than 98 feet deep. When hunting fish, they can drop to depths of 300 feet.

Spinner Sharks Predators and Prey

These sharks have few natural predators. Sometimes, large sharks will eat small spinner sharks.

They are carnivores and excellent hunters. They prefer to catch their prey in schools of sardines, herring, and other fish, but they will also eat larger fish like tunas, bluefish, and stingrays. The sharks travel in small groups and frequently hunt together.

Their chief predators are humans who hunt them for their fins and meat. Illegal hunting of sharks for the Asian fin trade has devastated many shark species. In a practice known as shark finning, hunters catch them and saw off their fins before throwing the live sharks back into the water. Sharks then sink to the bottom of the ocean. Unable to swim or catch prey, the sharks die a slow, painful death.

According to Sea Save, shark finning kills more than 100 million sharks every year. Conservationists are trying to pass laws that would ban the import of shark fins from the U.S. and other countries.

Habitat loss is another threat to spinner sharks. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists them as near threatened.

Spinner Shark Reproduction and Lifespan

These sharks reach sexual maturity at age 12. They mate in the spring and summer and give birth every other year. After a gestation period of 11 to 15 months, the female travels to a shallow location, where she gives birth to 3 to 20 pups. Each baby shark is about two feet long at birth, but they grow rapidly. Most of them reach their adult size in a few years.

Spinner Fish in Fishing and Cooking

These sharks are highly valued for their meat. They are also used as an ingredient in shark fin soup, which is an Asian delicacy.

Recreational fishermen enjoy hunting them because they are good fighters. They also enjoy watching the sharks leap into the air.

Spinner Shark Population

The exact size of these sharks’ population is unknown. One problem is that their similarity to blacktip sharks makes them difficult to identify. Conservationists warn that they are threatened in every location, however, primarily because of illegal hunting for the Asian fin trade.

Jumping for Joy

These sharks are among the many unique animals that give the ocean its amazing diversity. Watching them jumping and spinning is an unforgettable sight. With care and conservation, we can continue to enjoy these and the other magnificent beasts of the sea.

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Spinner Shark FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What Is a Spinner Shark?

A spinner shark is a migratory predator that is a member of the requiem family of sharks. Its preferred habitat is warm, shallow ocean water. It gets its name from its ability to spin both in the water and in the air.

Where Are Spinner Sharks Found?

They are found in tropical and temperate waters of almost every ocean. Spinner sharks prefer to stay in shallow waters close to the coastline.

Are Spinner Sharks Dangerous?

They are dangerous to fish, but they are not dangerous to humans. Their teeth are designed for grasping rather than biting, and they do not generally attack large mammals as prey.

Do Spinner Sharks Attack Humans?

According to the International Shark Attack File, there have been 16 incidents of spinner sharks biting humans, but none were fatal. In most cases, a diver or spearfisher was in the shark’s feeding location.

Why Do Spinner Sharks Spin?

When feeding, they do it to catch as many fish as possible. It’s not clear why they leap out of the water to spin.

How Can You Identify a Spinner Shark?

A spinner shark has a more pointed, pronounced snout than most shark species. It has a slender, bronze, and gray body. It also has black tips on all its fins. A blacktip shark, which is often confused with a spinner shark, only has black tips on its front fin.

  1. Oceana, Available here: https://oceana.org/marine-life/sharks-rays/spinner-shark
  2. Seasave, Available here: https://seasave.org/shark-finning/
  3. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinner_shark

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