Species Covered in this Field Guide: This field guide focuses on identifying unprocessed first dorsal fins and paired pectoral fins from the following nine commercially-exploited, large-bodied, globally distributed species that are traded internationally in large numbers for their fins

Easily Identified by their first dorsal and pectoral fins:

  • Oceanic whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus)

  • Porbeagle (Lamna nasus)

  • Scalloped, Great and Smooth hammerheads (Sphyrna lewini, S. mokarran, S. zygaena)

  • Silky (Carcharhinus falciformis)

Easily Identified by their pectoral fins:

  • Bigeye, Common and Pelagic threshers (Alopias superciliosus, A. vulpinus, A. pelagicus)
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This Shark fin ID Field Guide is available in the following languages for download:


Three steps to using this field guide:
Step 1: Distinguish the highly-valued fin types: first dorsal fins and pectoral fins from lower caudal lobes. If it is a dorsal fin, proceed to Step 2. If it is a pectoral fin, proceed to Step 3.

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Step 2: Distinguish oceanic whitetip, porbeagle, hammerhead, and silky first dorsal fins from non-CITES listed species using the flowchart in the guide.

Step 3: Distinguish oceanic whitetip, porbeagle, hammerhead, silky and thresher shark pectoral fins from non-CITES listed species using the flowchart in the guide. 


“A preliminary visual identification will establish reasonable or probable cause in enforcement settings so that expert opinion can be sought or genetic testing can confirm field identification, aiding governments in successfully implementing and enforcing the CITES shark listings and promoting legal, sustainable trade.