Oceanic Whitetip Shark
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Chondrichthyes
Subclass - Elasmobranchii
Order - Carcharhiniformes
Family - Carcharhinidae
Genus - Carcharhinus
Species – C. longimanus
Common Name – Oceanic Whitetip Shark, Silvertip Shark, White-tipped Whaler Shark, Brown Shark, Lesser White Shark
Oceanic whitetips patrol the open ocean in search of fish and cephalopods like squid to eat. It will also eat stingrays, sea turtles, seabirds and crabs or lobsters if available. Generally slow-moving, they are capable of quick, short bursts if necessary. These sharks may whip into a “feeding frenzy” when a large number of sharks is present at a food source.
Whitetips are often accompanied by striped pilot fish, which swim alongside them and feed off scraps of the shark’s prey.
These sharks give birth to live young, usually 5 to 7 pups. Not much is known about their reproduction, though it is believed that, like other related sharks, they may reproduce once every two years.
The oceanic whitetip can grow as large as 13 feet in length. Its most distinctive features are its fins, which are long and rounded on the edges, with white blotching at the tips. The rest of the shark is brownish gray above fading to white below.
Whitetips historically were commonly seen following ships, and their curious nature earned them the nickname “sea dogs”, which was applied to all sharks before the word “shark” entered into the English language in the1500s.
Since they are not found close to shore, they rarely interact with humans and thus are not implicated in many recent shark bites. However, they have a long history of attacking survivors of plane crashes and shipwrecks, and Jacques Cousteau, the famous oceanic explorer, called them “the most dangerous shark of all.”