- Photo. (c) Alex Monthy 2021.
- Photo. (c) 2021 Alex Monthy
- Photo. (c) 2021 John Nevill. Juvenile displaying black saddle and tips to D2 and anal fins.
Large stocky shark, white ventrally. Very large and unmistakeable rounded first dorsal fin and long paddle-like pectoral fins. Snout bluntly rounded, small eyes, upper teeth triangular. Interdorsal ridge present. Inconspicuous caudal keels.
Colour. Dark grey with a bronze tinge, sometimes brownish, dorsally. Cream to white ventrally. Tips or first dorsal and pectoral fins with distinctive mottled white tips. Lower lobe of caudal fin often white or with white spots. Ventral surface of pelvic fins, apices of anal and second dorsal, and ventral lobe of caudal often with black spots. Juveniles have black tips on some fins and black patches or saddles on the caudal peduncle.
Born: 55-77cm TL. Maturity: males 168-198cm TL, females 175-200cm TL. Max Length: possibly to 396cm TL. Commonly to 270cm TL.
Habitat and Ecology:
An oceanic deep-water species, usually over water depths of >184 meters, which sometimes comes close to shore (Depth 0-230m, typically 0-152m, but has been reported to depths of 1,082 m). Behaviour slow-moving but active by day and at night, cruising slowly at or near the surface, pectoral fins outspread. Frequently accompanied by remora and pilot fish. Mainly feeds on oceanic bony fishes and cephalopods, also stingrays, seabirds, turtles, marine gastropods, crustaceans, marine mammal carrion and garbage. Viviparous. 1 to 15 pups per litter (increasing with female size) after about one year gestation and most likely biennial reproductive cycle.
This species is not protected or subject to fishery regulations. It is however illegal to fish for sharks with nets (Fisheries Act, Reg 16.c).
It is rarely caught in the artisanal fishery, the juvenile photo’d here was caught artisanally near the “bordaz”, because it typically resides offshore over deep oceanic water. It does however occur around the edge of the plateau and juveniles occur on the outer banks. It is much more commonly caught in the semi-industrial and industrial long-line fishery. It is prone to being caught due to its preference for surface waters and its inquisitive nature.
The Oceanic Whitetip Shark was once one of the most abundant pelagic shark species in tropical seas worldwide but is now rare in some regions. The global population is estimated to have undergone a reduction of >98%, with the highest probability of >80% reduction over three generation lengths (61.2 years). Therefore, the Oceanic Whitetip Shark is assessed as Critically Endangered (Rigby et al 2019).
Very inquisitive shark and can be persistent and aggressive. Associated with open-ocean attacks after marine disasters such as the USS Minneapolis sunk by the Japanese in the Pacific in WWII.
Photos of whole specimen courtesy of Alex Monthy.
Carcharhinus longimanus (POEY, 1861): In: Database of modern sharks, rays and chimaeras, www.shark-references.com, World Wide Web electronic publication, Version 03/2021. (11/03/21).
Ebert, D.A. et al (2013). Sharks of the World – A fully illustrated guide. Wild Nature press ISBN 978-0-9573946-0-5
Fisheries Act 2014. Prohibition of net fishing of sharks, Reg. 16c of 1st August 1998. (Carried over from the 1986 Fisheries Act as per Fisheries Act 2014 para 79: Savings and Transitional provisions).
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Eds. 2018. FishBase. (11/03/21)
Rigby, C.L. et al 2019. Carcharhinus longimanus. The IUCN Red List 2019: e.T39374A2911619. . (11/03/21)