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Oceanic whitetip shark

Posted on: March 9, 2010

Above the oceanic whitetip shark

1. The oceanic whitetip is found globally in deep open water with a temperature greater than 18 °C (64 °F). It prefers waters between 20 °C (68 °F) and 28 °C (82 °F) and tends to withdraw from areas when temperatures fall below this. They are found worldwide between 45° north and 43° south latitude.The shark spends most of its time in the upper layer of the ocean—to a depth of 150 meters (490 ft) and prefers off-shore deep-ocean areas. Sometimes it is found close to land in waters as shallow as 37 meters (120 ft) mainly around mid-ocean islands such as Hawaii or in areas where the continental shelf is narrow and there is access to nearby deep water. It is active both day and night.

2. The Oceanic whitetip most distinguishing characteristics are its long wing-like pectoral and dorsal fins. The fins are significantly larger than most other shark species. The shark’s nose is rounded and its eyes are circular with nictitating membranes. It is bronze brown bluish or Grey dorsally and white ventrally. Its maximum size is 4 meters (13 ft), although usually it does not exceed 3 meters (10 ft). Its maximum reported weight is 170 kilograms (370 lb). The female is typically larger than the male by 10 centimeters with males about 1.8 meters and females about 1.9 meters. Most of its fins (dorsal, pectoral, pelvic, and caudal) have white tips (juvenile specimens and some adults may lack these). A saddle-like marking may be apparent between first and second dorsal fins. The shark has several kinds of teeth—those in the mandible (lower jaw) have a thin serrated tip and are relatively small and triangular. There are between 13 and 15 teeth on either side. The teeth in the upper jaw are triangular but much larger and broader with entirely serrated edges—there are 14 or 15 along each side.

3. Oceanic whitetip mainly on pelagic cephalopods and bony fish. However its diet can be far more varied and less selective—it is known to eat threadfins, stingrays, sea turtles, birds, gastropods, crustaceans, mammalian carrion, and even rubbish dumped from ships. The bony fish it feeds on include lancetfish, oarfish, barracuda, jacks, dolphinfish, marlin, tuna, and mackerel. Its feeding methods include biting into groups of fish and swimming through schools of tuna with an open mouth. When feeding with other species it becomes aggressive.

4. The oceanic whitetip is usually solitary and slow-moving and tends to cruise near the top of the water searching for food. The oeanoc whitetip have been known to follow ships (dog-like behavior) and ready to rush in if the opportunity presents itself. Oceanic whitetips are not fast swimmers but they are capable of surprising bursts of speed. Groups often form when individuals see a large food source and go in to a “feeding frenzy” they will bit everything and eat it.

5. Mating season is in early summer in the northwest Atlantic Ocean and southwest Indian Ocean although females captured in the Pacific have been found with embryos year-round suggesting a longer mating season. Its gestation period is one year. Litter sizes vary from one to 15 with the young born at a length of about 0.6 meters. Sexual maturity is reached at close to 1.75 meters  for males and 2 meters for females.

6. The oceanic whitetip is responsible for more fatal attacks on humans than all other species combined as a result of predation on survivors of shipwrecks or downed aircraft. USS Indianapolis on 30 July 1945 accounting for 60 to 80 sailors. Tiger sharks may have been responsible for some deaths. Also during World War II the Nova Scotia a steamship carrying approximately 1,000 people near South Africa was sunk by a German submarine. With only 192 survivors many deaths were attributed to the whitetip.

All of this info is from


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