Oceanic whitetip sharkOCS

Carcharhinus longimanus

Carcharhinus longimanus upper tooth

Characteristic features:

  • First dorsal and pectoral fins enlarged, with very broadly rounded tips
  • Fin tips mottled white in adults (some black tips in juveniles)
  • Interdorsal ridge present
  • Snout short and broadly rounded
  • Upper teeth strongly serrated, with broad erect, triangular cusps (more oblique posteriorly)
  • Lower teeth narrow and upright

Colour:

Dorsal surfaces bronze to greyish. Newborns and small juveniles with black tips to most fins; in specimens over 130 cm TL black tips fade, and first dorsal, pectoral, pelvic and caudal fins develop mottled white tips. Ventral surfaces paler.

Size:

Maximum size up to 350 cm TL; birth size 55–77 cm TL.

Distribution:

Cosmopolitan in tropical and warm temperate seas.

Habitat:

Oceanic and pelagic, mostly well offshore but also sometimes well inshore when the continental shelf is narrow. Found from the surface to 150 meters depth; preferring waters above 20°C.

Biology:

Feeds primarily on pelagic bony fish and cephalopods, but also stingrays, seabirds, turtles, marine gastropods, crustaceans and marine mammal carrion. The white mottled fins may mimic schools of baitfish, which attract tuna and mackerels. A very dangerous shark which is responsible for many open-ocean attacks after air or sea disasters. Length at maturity is at 175–200 and 168–198 cm TL for females and males respectively. Age at maturity is around 5–7 years for both sexes in Papua New Guinea. Reproductive mode is viviparous with yolk-sac placenta with a gestation period lasting 12 months with no apparent reproductive seasonality. Females probably breed every second year, and give birth to 1–15 pups.

Indonesian fisheries:

Occasionally caught by shark and tuna longline and tuna gillnet fisheries. Utilised for its fins (high value in adults), meat, skin and cartilage.

Similar species:

A distinct species clearly separable from other Carcharhinus species by the broadly rounded fin tips and the white-mottled first dorsal-, caudal- and pectoral-fin tips (most distinct in adults).

External links:

FishBase
The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM