Blacktip Reef Shark

Blacktip Reef Shark The Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) is a moderately-sized, brownish shark with a blunt snout, horizontally oval eyes, and obvious black blotches on the first dorsal apex, lower caudal lobe and the tips of other fins. They lack an interdorsal ridge.

Pacific blacktips have a light brown dorsal surface fading to a white ventral surface. Both the first dorsal fin and ventral caudal lobe exhibit a conspicuous black apical blotch. Generally less prominent black tips are found on other fins. Additionally, they typically have a conspicuous white band along either flank.

The maximum reported length of the blacktip shark is 8.4 feet (255 cm). Size at birth is 15-28 inches (38-72 cm). Average adult size is around 4.9 feet (150 cm), weighing about 40 lbs. (18 kg). Age at maturity is 4-5 years for males, and 6-7 years for females. The maximum age of blacktips is thought to be at least 12 years.

In waters off the southeastern U.S., the length at maturity is 4.8 feet (145 cm) total length (TL) for males corresponding to a weight of approximately 43 pounds (19.5 kg) and 5.2 feet (156 cm) TL for females corresponding to a weight of approximately 55 pounds (25 kg) (source: Castro 1996).

Blacktip sharks are cosmopolitan in tropical to subtropical coastal, shelf, and island waters. In the Atlantic during their seasonal migration they range from Nova Scotia to Brazil, but their center of abundance is in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. They occur throughout the Mediterranean and along the central West coast of Africa. In the Pacific they range from Southern California to Peru, including the Sea of Cortez. They occur at the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, Tahiti, and other South Pacific Islands, to the North coast of Australia. In the Indian Ocean they range from South Africa and Madagascar up to the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, throughout India's coast, and east to the coast of China.

The blacktip shark inhabits inshore and offshore waters, but is not a truly pelagic species. They are often seen nearshore around river mouths, bays, mangrove swamps, and in other estuaries, though they do not penetrate far into freshwater. They can be found offshore and over deep waters near coral reef dropoffs, but primarily stay in the upper 100 feet (30 m) of the water column.