home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Carcharhinus longimanus (Oceanic whitetip shark)

(Poey, 1861)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) >.Chondrichthyes > Elasmobranchii > Galeomorphii > Carcharhiniformes > Carcharhinidae

Carcharhinus longimanus (Oceanic whitetip shark) [Illustration by Ann Hecht ]


A stocky grey or brownish oceanic shark with huge rounded 1st dorsal fin, and wide-tipped, long pectoral fins. Snout bluntly rounded, upper teeth triangular, interdorsal ridge present. Underside white, fins with prominent white-mottled tips; juveniles have black tips on some fins and black patches on the caudal peduncle.


To 3.5 m TL, possibly more.


Southwest and east coast, off Cape Point and the western Agulhas bank to Mozambique; circumtropical.



Open ocean and shelf edges from surface to at least 152 m, occasionally close inshore, once taken in water 84 m deep in Algoa Bay.


Common. Bears 1 to 15 young. Eats oceanic bony fish, including tuna, skipjack, marlin, dolphinfish, jacks, barracuda, lancetfish, oarfish, and threadfins, stingrays, sea turtles, sea birds, gastropods, squid, crustaceans, mammalian carrion, and garbage. Inquisitive and persistant in investigating divers.

Human Impact

Potentially dangerous to offshore divers and victims of marine accidents, with several attacks attributed to it. Caught by offshore foreign longliners.

Text by Leonard J.V. Compagno, David A. Ebert and Malcolm J. Smale