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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Creature Feature: Oceanic Whitetip Shark

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In this series, the Shark Trust will be sharing amazing facts about different species of sharks and what you can do to help protect them.

This month, it’s the turn of a legendary shark – the Oceanic Whitetip. Known for their incredibly long dorsal and pectoral fins, this species was once the most abundant oceanic-pelagic species of shark on the planet.

The Oceanic Whitetip is a species of shark in the same family (Carcharhinidae) as the Blacktip, Bull and Spinner Sharks, amongst others. Sharks in this family are also known as “requiem” sharks. “Requiem” is said to derive from the ancient Norman French word “reschignier” – to bare teeth or grimace.

Stocky and large, they are grey or brown above, and white below. Oceanic Whitetips are famous for their huge rounded first dorsal fin and paddle-like pectoral fins. Their fins have distinctive mottled white tips. They are slow moving, and active at day and night. Their huge pectoral fins spread out as they cruise at the surface.

They typically feed on oceanic bony fishes and cephalopods. However, they also eat stingrays, sea turtles, birds and crustaceans. They feed by biting into schools of fish or by swimming through schools with their mouth open. When feeding with other species, like Silky sharks, Whitetips can be aggressive. Peter Benchley, author of Jaws observed Whitetip sharks eating the faeces of Pilot Whales!

Like all sharks in the Charcharhinidae family, Oceanic Whitetips are viviparous. Embryos develop in utero and are fed by a placental sac. Mating season is in early summer for those in the Atlantic Ocean and southwest Indian ocean. Females in the Pacific have been found with embryos year round – suggesting a longer mating season. The gestation period is one year. Sexual maturity is reached at 4-9 years depending on location.

Whilst they are mostly solitary, Oceanic Whitetips do occasionally hunt in groups. These organised group hunts, during which Whitetips cooperate in hunts and strategically take turns in attacking prey.

Whitetips are incredibly inquisitive. Unfortunately, this means they are easy to catch. Combined with their low reproductive rate, they are incredibly at risk from population depletion. Previously listed as vulnerable, the Oceanic Whitetip was reclassified to critically endangered in 2019. Populations are declining across the globe, with declines of up to 99% reported in in the northwest and central Atlantic, for example.

Conservation efforts to help the species bounce back include listing on CITES Appendix II and CMS Appendix I, for example. They also have protection under some RFMOs (Regional Fisheries Management Organisations). However, these listings do not mean that Oceanic Whitetips are not still targeted or caught as bycatch in some parts of the world. With populations declining at such a high rate, further protections need to be implemented to ensure that the species can recover.

SCIENTIFIC NAME:  Carcharhinus longimanus

FAMILY:  Carcharhinidae

MAXIMUM SIZE: ~380cm long

DIET: Oceanic boy fishes and cephalopods. But also on stingrays, sea birds, turtles, marine gastropods, crustaceans, marine mammal carrion and garbage.

DISTRIBUTION:  Worldwide – formerly the most abundant warm-water oceanic-pelagic shark.

HABITAT:  Oceanic (occasionally coastal). Far off-shore, from surface to depths of 1082m. Temperatures between 18-28°c.

CONSERVATION STATUS: Critically endangered.


For more amazing facts about sharks and what you can do to help the Shark Trust protect them visit the Shark Trust website by clicking here.

The Shark Trust is the leading UK-based shark conservation charity. The team works globally to safeguard the future of sharks, and their close cousins, the skates and rays. Engaging with a global network of scientists, policymakers, conservation professionals, businesses and supporters, to further shark conservation. Established in 1997 to provide a voice for UK sharks, the Shark Trust has an ever-growing number of passionate supporters. And together we're creating positive change for sharks around the world. Want to join us and help protect sharks around the world? Click here! www.sharktrust.org

Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Ana Filipa Sobral, Founder of The Manta Catalog Project in the Azores (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Ana Filipa Sobral, Founder and Project Leader of The Manta Catalog Project in the Azores.

Ana Filipa Sobral is a marine biologist and conservationist based in the Azores Islands. She moved to the Azores in 2011 and once there, realised that this was one of the few places in the world where Sicklefin Devil Rays (Mobula tarapacana) gather in large groups, making it a strategic place to study them. She started the The Manta Catalog Project and through this project, collects photo ID and occurrence data on Mobulid Rays, with the precious help of divers and dive operators as citizen scientists.

Ana is also finishing her PhD which focuses on population genetics and connectivity of migratory elasmobranchs in oceanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The main goal fueling my research has been to help fill the knowledge gaps on elasmobranch biology and ecology to ultimately assist in the design of effective conservation and management plans aimed at protecting their populations in this remote region of the North Atlantic Ocean.

You can find out more about Ana’s important work at: https://mantacatalogazores.wixsite.com/mobulaid/project.


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Marine Life & Conservation

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Dan Abbott of Save The Med Foundation

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Gemma and Ian chat to Dan Abbott.  Dan works at Save The Med Foundation.  He is incredibly passionate about marine conservation, underwater filmmaking, drones and helping people understand the world of sharks. It’s probably safe to say sharks are his main passion, and he has spent the last five years traveling around the world filming various species including great white sharks, bull sharks, tiger sharks and hammerhead sharks.

Have a listen here:

Find out more here:


Find more podcast episodes and information at the new www.thebigscuba.com  website and on most social platforms @thebigscuba

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