Blacktip shark

The Blacktip shark, Carcharhinus limbatus, is a large shark, native to the continental and insular shelves of tropical and warm temperate seas around the world.

The Blacktip is a large fairly stout shark, grey in color, normally with black-tipped fins. It has a long, narrow, pointed snout, long gill slits, a large first dorsal fin and fairly large second dorsal.


The Blacktip shark was first described by Achille Valenciennes in Müller & Henle (1839) as Carcharias (Prionodon) limbatus. The accepted scientific name is Carcharhinus limbatus (Müller & Henle, 1839). The epithet limbatus (“bordered”) refers to the black tips of its fins.

Behavior and diet

Like its close relative the spinner shark, the Blacktip shark is a fast swimming shark capable not only of breaching but also of rotating (spinning) several times before re-entering the water. It is non-aggressive and would be unlikely to attack humans without stimulus.

There is some evidence of segregation with some populations showing separation between groups of adult males and non-pregnant females on the one hand and pregnant females and young on the other.

Blacktip sharks feed mainly on a wide range of bony fish: sardines, herring, mullet, jacks, and Spanish mackerel, among others; the young of other sharks including dusky sharks; and some cephalopods and crustaceans.

The Blacktip shark is viviparous and has a yolk-sac placenta with 1 – 10 pups per litter (4 – 7 as a mean figure). The gestation period is believed to be 10 to 12 months and females are thought to breed every other year.

Importance to humans

Its flesh is used fresh, dried or salted for consumption; its hide is used for leather and its liver for oil. It is occasionally taken as a game fish and often by shore anglers. It has not been indicated in unprovoked attacks against humans but is potentially dangerous.