Oceanic whitetip shark

Opportunistic predators of the open ocean, their aggressive and persistent feeding behaviour strikes fear into the hearts of their prey

OldakQuill

Its large, rounded fins featuring distinctive white markings make it an easily recognizable species of large pelagic shark. The white tips of its dorsal, pectoral, and caudal fins provide a stark contrast against its brownish-grey to bluish-grey body, helping to identify the shark from a distance.

These sharks can grow to considerable lengths, with average sizes ranging from 1.8 to 2.5 meters (5.9 to 8.2 feet), and the largest individuals measuring over 3 meters (9.8 feet) and weighing up to 170 kilograms (370 pounds). Their bulky body and broad, paddle-like pectoral fins are designed for sustained, energy-efficient cruising through open waters, allowing them to exploit a vast range that spans both tropical and temperate oceans.

Oceanic whitetip sharks are largely solitary animals known to cover vast stretches of the ocean in search of food. They are primarily aquatic, living in the open sea rather than near the seafloor, and are often found near the surface in deep offshore waters. This shark’s pelagic lifestyle is facilitated by its ability to utilize ocean currents and temperature gradients to their advantage, aiding their navigation and hunting.

As opportunistic feeders, they have a varied diet that includes cephalopods, bony fish, and occasionally crustaceans. They have also been observed feeding on carrion and the bycatch from fishing vessels. One of the oceanic whitetip’s more noted behaviors is their association with pilot fish, which often accompany the sharks, feeding on parasites and scraps of their host’s meals.

Despite their robust size and formidable appearance, oceanic whitetips have declined significantly in numbers due to overfishing and the demand for their fins, meat, and oil. They are frequently caught as bycatch in longline and gillnet fisheries, which, combined with their slow reproductive rates, makes recovery difficult for their populations. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the oceanic whitetip shark as “Critically Endangered,” with populations decreasing worldwide.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Atlantic Ocean
2018
Indian Ocean
2018
Pacific Ocean
2018
Gulf of Mexico
2018
American Samoa
2018
Angola
2018
Anguilla
2018
Antigua & Barbuda
2018
Argentina
2018
Aruba
2018
Australia
2018
Bahamas
2018
Bangladesh
2018
Barbados
2018
Belize
2018
Benin
2018
Bermuda
2018
Bonaire
2018
Brazil
2018
British Indian T.
2018
Chagos Archipelago
British Virgin Is.
2018
Brunei
2018
Cambodia
2018
Cameroon
2018
Cape Verde
2018
Cayman Islands
2018
China
2018
Christmas Island
2018
Cocos Is. (Keeling)
2018
Colombia
2018
Mainland,
Comoros
2018
Cook Islands
2018
Costa Rica
2018
Cuba
2018
Curaçao
2018
Côte D’ivoire
2018
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
2018
Djibouti
2018
Dominica
2018
Dominican Republic
2018
Ecuador
2018
Mainland
Egypt
2018
El Salvador
2018
Equatorial Guinea
2018
Eritrea
2018
Fiji
2018
France
2018
Mainland
French Guiana
2018
French Polynesia
2018
Gabon
2018
Gambia
2018
Ghana
2018
Grenada
2018
Guadeloupe
2018
Guam
2018
Guatemala
2018
Guinea-Bissau
2018
Guinea
2018
Guyana
2018
Haiti
2018
Honduras
2018
Hong Kong
2018
India
2018
Indonesia
2018
Israel
2018
Jamaica
2018
Japan
2018
Kenya
2018
Liberia
2018
Macao
2018
Madagascar
2018
Malaysia
2018
Maldives
2018
Marshall Islands
2018
Martinique
2018
Mauritania
2018
Mauritius
2018
Mexico
2018
Montserrat
2018
Morocco
2018
Myanmar
2018
Nauru
2018
New Caledonia
2018
New Zealand
2018
Nicaragua
2018
Niue
2018
Nort. Mariana Is.
2018
Oman
2018
Pakistan
2018
Palau
2018
Panama
2018
Papua New Guinea
2018
Peru
2018
Philippines
2018
Pitcairn
2018
Portugal
2018
Madeira, Azores
Puerto Rico
2018
Réunion
2018
Saint Barthélemy
2018
Saint Helena
2018
Saint Lucia
2018
Saint Martin
2018
French Part
Saint Vincent
2018
Samoa
2018
Saudi Arabia
2018
Senegal
2018
Seychelles
2018
Sierra Leone
2018
Singapore
2018
Sint Maarten
2018
Dutch Part
Slovenia
2018
Solomon Islands
2018
Somalia
2018
South Africa
2018
Spain
2018
Sri Lanka
2018
St. Kitts & Nevis
2018
Sudan
2018
Suriname
2018
São Tomé & Príncipe
2018
Taiwan
2018
Tanzania
2018
Thailand
2018
Togo
2018
Tokelau
2018
Tonga
2018
Trinidad & Tobago
2018
Turks & Caicos
2018
Tuvalu
2018
US Virgin Islands
2018
US Minor Is.
2018
Johnston I., Wake Is.
United States
2018
Hawaiian Is.
Uruguay
2018
Vanuatu
2018
Venezuela
2018
Vietnam
2018
Yemen
2018

Anything we've missed?

Help us improve this page by suggesting edits. Glory never dies!

Suggest an edit

Get to know me

Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No