Bignose Sharks, Carcharhinus altimus
Taxonomy Animalia Chordata Elasmobranchii Carcharhiniformes Carcharhinidae Carcharhinus altimus
Description & Behavior
Bignose sharks, Carcharhinus altimus (Springer, 1950), aka Knopp's sharks, are large sharks with slender bodies measuring up to 3 m in length and weighing up to 168 kg. They have long, wide, pointed snouts (for which they're named) and well-developed nasal flaps. This species has a prominent interdorsal ridge and long pectoral fins. The pointed first dorsal fin is located above or just behind the pectoral fins and the anal fin is located behind the second dorsal fin. The inner corners of the pectoral fins have black tips. The bignose is gray on the dorsal (upper) side, white on the ventral (under) side.
Bignose sharks resemble night sharks, C. signatus, in appearance. Night sharks are distinguished by their long rear tip on their second dorsal fins and green eyes.
World Range & Habitat
Bignose sharks are found in tropical and subtropical offshore waters in the western Atlantic Ocean from Florida in the US south to Venezuela. In the eastern Atlantic they can be found along the west African coast from Senegal to Ghana, and in the Mediterranean Sea. This species has also been sighted in the western Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and near Mozambique, South Africa, Madagascar, and India. In the Pacific Ocean bignoses can be found off the coasts of China and Hawaii, and in the Gulf of California south to Mexico, Colombia, and Ecuador in the east.
Feeding Behavior (Ecology)
Bignose sharks are viviparous meaning females give birth to live young nourished a placenta sac during gestation. Litter size is between 3-11 pups that measure between 70-90 cm in length. Male bignose sharks reach sexual maturity at around 2 m in length, females between 2.26-2.82 m. Females give birth at different times of the year in different regions. In the Mediterranean, bignose sharks are known to give birth from August to September; off the coast of Madagascar, birth occurs during September and October.
Conservation Status & Comments
Bignose sharks are harmless to humans unless provoked and rarely come in contact with humans given their offshore habitat.
Bignose sharks are currently protected from commercial fishing in the US by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
References & Further Research
Research Carcharhinus altimus » Barcode of Life ~ BioOne ~ Biodiversity Heritage Library ~ CITES ~ Cornell Macaulay Library [audio / video] ~ Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) ~ ESA Online Journals ~ FishBase ~ Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department ~ GBIF ~ Google Scholar ~ ITIS ~ IUCN RedList (Threatened Status) ~ Marine Species Identification Portal ~ NCBI (PubMed, GenBank, etc.) ~ Ocean Biogeographic Information System ~ PLOS ~ SCIRIS ~ SIRIS ~ Tree of Life Web Project ~ UNEP-WCMC Species Database ~ WoRMS
Feedback & Citation
Start or join a discussion about this species below or send us an email to report any errors or submit suggestions for this page. We greatly appreciate all feedback!
Help Protect and Restore Ocean Life
Help us protect and restore marine life by supporting our various online community-centered marine conservation projects that are effectively sharing the wonders of the ocean with millions each year around the world, raising a balanced awareness of the increasingly troubling and often very complex marine conservation issues that affect marine life and ourselves directly, providing support to marine conservation groups on the frontlines that are making real differences today, and the scientists, teachers and students involved in the marine life sciences. Join us today or show your support with a monthly donation.
With your support, most marine life and their ocean habitats can be protected, if not restored to their former natural levels of biodiversity. We sincerely thank our thousands of members, donors and sponsors, who have decided to get involved and support the MarineBio Conservation Society.