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 Blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus)

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Blacktip shark
 Range Map

Earth Map


Phylum: Vertebates (Chordata)

Class: Carlilagenous Fishes (Chondrichthyes)
  Order: Ground sharks (Carcharhiniformes)
    Family: Requiem sharks (Carcharhinidae)
      Genus: Carcharhinus (Carcharhinus)


Scientific: Carcharhinus limbatus
German: Schwarzspitzenhai, Grosser Schwarzspitzenhai
English: Blacktip shark, Blacktip whaler
French: Requin borde
Spanish: Tiburón macuira


Shark with a long and pointed snout. Small eyes. Origin of the first dorsal fin usually over or slightly behind the insertion of the pectoral fins.


Grey, grey-brown or bluish grey upper body, white ventral surface. Black tips usually present on pectoral fins, second dorsal fin, and ventral caudal lobe, and sometimes on pelvic fins. The tip of the anal fin is usually plain. A conspicuous white band on the flanks.


Widespread in all tropical and subtropical waters over continental shelves. Western Atlantic: Massachusetts to southern Brazil. Bahamas, the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Eastern Atlantic: Madeira, Mediterranean, Canary Islands to Zaire. Indo-Western Pacific: South Africa, Madagascar, and Red Sea to India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Thailand, China, the Philippines, Java, Borneo, Australia, New Guinea, New Caledonia. Central Pacific: Tahiti, Marquesas, Hawaiian Islands. Eastern Pacific: Southern Baja California to Peru, Galapagos Islands.


The blacktip shark is a common tropical and warm-temperate species of inshore and offshore pelagic waters. Commonly occurs in close inshore waters, off river mouths and estuaries, muddy bays, mangrove swamps, island lagoons and along drop-offs on coral reefs as well as far offshore. Rarely found in water deeper than 30 m. A very active, fast-swimming species that often occurs in large schools at the surface. It leaps out of the water, and like the related Spinner shark rotates around its axis before dropping back into the sea. This behavior is thought to be used by the shark while feeding on small schooling fishes. The shark launches itself vertically through the schools, spinning and snapping in all directions, and then breach the surface after the feeding run. Its social behavior makes it subject to feeding frenzies when a number of sharks compete for a highly concentrated food source.


Primarily a fish-eater (sardines, herrings, anchovies) as well as small sharks such as smooth-hounds (Mustelus), sharpnose sharks (Rhizoprionodon), and a variety of young of larger shark species.


Average size about 150 cm and 18 kg, maximum 255 cm.


Viviparous, with yolksac-placenta. 1 to 10 pups per litter, commonly 4 to 7. Size at birth about 40 to 70 cm. Gestation period is 10 to 12 months. Males mature between 135 and 180 cm, females mature between 120 and 190 cm. Estimated life span about 12 years.

 Similar Species

Several similar looking species look. Although the coloration (fin markings, white band) is fairly unique, additional diagnostic features might be necessary to distinguish among the species.


Status in the IUCN Red List(1994):

Main criterion: > LR/nt (Low Risk/Near Threatened (1994))
Sub criterion:
Trend: Unknown

 Danger to Humans

Very few attacks on people have been attributed to this species, and it is likely that without a food stimulus or other special circumstances that this species is of little hazard to people.

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