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Oceanic Whitetip Shark (Carcharhinus longimanus)

Status | Taxonomy | Species Description | Habitat | Distribution |
Population Trends | Threats | Conservation Efforts | Regulatory Overview |
Key Documents | More Info

  oceanic whitetip shark
Oceanic Whitetip Shark
(Carcharhinus longimanus)
Photo: Johan Lantz

 

Status
CITES Appendix II - effective 09/14/2014

Taxonomy
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Order: Carcharhiniformes
Family: Carcharhinidae
Genus: Carcharhinus
Species: longimanus

Species Description
Weight: over 500 pounds (230 kg)
Length: up to 11.25 feet (3.4 m)
Appearance: white-tipped first dorsal, pectoral, pelvic, and caudal fins, and paddle-like pectoral fins
Lifespan: up to 15 years; maturity is reached at ~4-7 years
Diet: bony fishes (including tunas, barracuda, white marlin, dolphinfish, lancetfish, oarfish, threadfish, swordfish), also threadfins, stingrays, sea turtles, sea birds, gastropods, squid, crustaceans, mammalian carrion, and garbage
Behavior: "viviparous", meaning mothers give birth to live young; gestation is thought to last 9-12 months with litter sizes anywhere from 1 to 14 pups, and they typically give birth every 2 years

Oceanic whitetip sharks are moderately large sharks with a global distribution. This stocky shark is easily distinguished from other sharks by its unmistakable whitish-tipped first dorsal, pectoral, pelvic, and caudal fins. It has a large rounded first dorsal fin and very long and wide paddle-like pectoral fins with a short, bluntly rounded nose and small circular eyes.

Habitat
The oceanic whitetip shark is a pelagic species that lives near the surface in warm waters (usually over 20 degrees Celsius) in the open ocean, usually well offshore.

Distribution
Oceanic whitetip sharks are found worldwide in warm tropical and subtropical waters between 20° North and 20° South latitude, but can be found up to about 30° North and South latitude during seasonal movements to higher latitudes in the summer months.

Threats

  • bycatch in pelagic fisheries
  • trade of fins

Oceanic whitetip sharks are one of the more common tropical pelagic species taken as bycatch primarily in tuna and swordfish fisheries using pelagic longlines, purse seines, and probably also with pelagic gillnets, handlines, and occasionally pelagic and even bottom trawls.

Fins have high value ($20-40 per pound) in the international fin trade and are used to make shark fin soup.

Conservation Efforts
In October 2012, a number of countries, including the United States, agreed to sponsor a proposal to add oceanic whitetip shark to Appendix II of CITES to provide further protections from the high demand in international trade. The proposal was passed at the CITES meeting in March 2013 and will become effective on September 14, 2014.

Key Documents
(All documents are in PDF format.)

Title Date
CITES Appendix II Proposal 10/04/2012

More Information

Updated: August 23, 2013

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