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
Find an error or having trouble with something? Let us know and we'll have a look!
Help us continue to share the wonders of the ocean with the world, raise awareness of marine conservation issues and their solutions, and support marine conservation scientists and students involved in the marine life sciences. Join the MarineBio Conservation Society or make a donation today. We would like to sincerely thank all of our members, donors, and sponsors, we simply could not have achieved what we have without you and we look forward to doing even more.