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Oceanic Whitetip Shark
Threat Level: Medium/High
The Oceanic Whitetip Shark is also
Whitetip shark, white-tipped shark, whitetip whaler.
Scientific name...........Carcharhinus Longimanus
Family name.............. Carcharhinidae
- General Information: The oceanic whitetip shark
is a large and stocky gray species, and should not be confused
with the slender, and small finned whitetip reef shark. The oceanic
whitetip is one of the more conspicuous sharks because of its
large rounded dorsal fin and very long paddle-like pectoral fins
have mottled white tips; hence the species common name.
- Size: Oceanic whitetips can grow to large sizes
reaching 11-13 feet. The average size of these sharks are approx.
10 feet in length or less. The weight of oceanic range from 100
to approx.320 pounds.
The oceanic whitetip
has powerful jaws has sharp serrated teeth. The upper and lower
teeth differ in shape. The upper jaw contains broad, triangular,
serrated teeth, while the teeth in the lower jaw are much more
pointed and are only serrated near the tip. The shape of its
teeth make it very easy to take large chunks out of big prey;
the pointy lower teeth pin and hold onto the prey while the
upper serrated teeth can saw out a piece of flesh.
- Color: This species is commonly named the oceanic
whitetip shark for the whitish tipped first dorsal, pectoral, pelvic,
and caudal fins. These white markings are sometimes accompanied
by white mottling on the fins. In younger specimens, the pelvic
and pectoral fins are often tipped with black, and these juveniles
often have saddle-shaped markings between the first and second
dorsal fins. The underside of the shark is always whitish, but
the color of the dorsal half of the body sometimes varies slightly
from location to location. While it is usually grayish bronze to
brown in color above, for instance in the Red Sea, the back is
sometimes browner; in the Indian Ocean the back is grayer; and
off Hawaii the back is more of a pale beige.
- Feeding Habits: Oceanic whitetips eat just
about anything that they can catch in the open sea, including
a variety of fishes and squid, barracuda, marlin, mackerels, and
even garbage that has been disposed of at sea. Whitetips have
also been found to eat sea birds and sea turtles, tuna and crustaceans.
It also swims through schools of feeding tuna with wide-open jaws
into which the tuna unknowingly swim. If other species of sharks
are encountered by the oceanic whitetip during feeding activities,
the oceanic whitetip becomes aggressive and dominates over them.
- Social Behaviour: Although this shark is primary
solitary, it has been observed in feeding frenzies when a food
source is present. It is believed to have equal amounts of activity
during the day and night time hours. One of the more interesting
facets of the oceanic whitetip's behaviour is its association with
the shortfin pilot whale. Whitetips are often found swimming alon
with the big pods of pilot whales, and often follow the whales
when they dive down into the depths, The reason whitetips hang
around pilot whales is not known, but it is possible that the
sharks follow the whales and feed along on the squid that the
whales actively seek out.
- Habitat | Migration | Distribution: The oceanic
whitetip shark is distributed worldwide and is a common resident
of warm open ocean waters. They are found in tropical and subtropical
waters, usually in deep open oceans. Whitetips can be found at
any level ranging from the surface to at least 500 feet. Rarely
seen close to the shore, but sometimes be found in the waters
off the Southern California and Southern Australia coasts where
it has followed the warm ocean currents.
- Life Span: The longest- lived known specimen
lived to an age of 22 years.
- Reproduction: Oceanic whitetip shark is viviparous
in reproduction, meaning the eggs hatch inside the mother with
the young being born alive. During the year-long gestation period,
the embryos are nourished by a placental yolk-sac that is attached
to the uterine wall by umbilical cords. The litter size increases
with the size of the mother as many as 15 live pups are born,
each pup is approximately 24-30 inches. It appears whitetips mate
and give birth in the early summer.
- Swimming: Oceanic whitetips have been described
for their swimming behaviour in open waters at or near the surface
of the water as moving slowly with the huge pectoral fins spread
- Oceanic Whitetip Shark Attacks: Although they
are generally slow moving, it is dangerous because it has poweful
jaws, large teeth, and it will not hesitate to approach swimmers
or small boats. It is probably responsible for many of the open-ocean
attacks on people after air or sea disasters.
- Population Report: Once abundant now reduced