Blacktip shark - Carcharhinus limbatus


Illustration © Marc Dando

All fins except anal fins are black tipped, and the shark has an interdorsal ridge.

Dark gray, blue gray or dusky bronze above, white below. Dorsal fins, pectoral fins, and lower lobe of caudal fin have black tips. A pale band extends along its flank from the region of its pectoral fin to its pelvic fin.

Males mature at 5.9 ft [1.8 m], females mature at 6 ft [1.83 m]. The largest shark caught was an 8.1 ft [2.47 m] female.

Erect symmetrical teeth with finely serrated edges in both jaws. Teeth of the upper jaw are broad with narrow cusps, and teeth of the lower jaw are narrow.

This is an inshore shark found in shallow coastal waters; it is often encountered in estuaries and river mouths.

Widespread in tropical and subtropical continental seas.


  • Prey – The shark feeds on schooling fish, small sharks, rays, squid and cuttlefish.

  • Reproduction - Viviparous, with a yolk-sac placenta. Litter size ranges from 4 to 10 pups. Size at birth is 13 to 26 inches [35 to 65 cm].

This is an active shark and is often seen spinning and leaping above the surface. The shark migrates to deeper water in winter. In contests for food this species gives way to Galapagos sharks, Carcharhinus galapagensis, and Silvertip sharks, Carcharhinus albimarginatus.

Small active sharks may approach divers and circle at a distance, but will rarely approach in unbaited situations. Large sharks are usually indifferent to divers once they descend and rarely approach closer than 50 ft [15m]. Nevertheless, this shark can be belligerent with divers when contesting speared fish; spearfishermen frequently refer to Blacktip sharks as “sea jackals.” When several Blacktip sharks are together they may become hyperactive, particularly in baited situations.

Danger to humans – This species has been implicated in numerous non-fatal incidents.