Fun Oceanic Whitetip Shark Facts For Kids

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
May 16, 2023 By Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fun oceanic whitetip shark facts about a large and dangerous shark.

An Oceanic whitetip shark is a medium-sized predatory shark. It is a slow swimmer but aggressive.

The species are found in the warm waters of all the oceans and seas across the globe. The build of this shark is stocky with rounded fins with white tips. The gray bronze-colored upper side and yellow-white underside form a saddle-like pattern making it look beautiful.

The oceanic whitetip shark is also called the Nigano shark, Brown Milbert’s sand bar shark, and oceanic white-tipped whaler. The oceanic whitetip shark is confused with the whitetip reef shark. But they are not the same.

Oceanic whitetip sharks are one of the endangered species on earth due to uncontrolled fishing. It is famous for its leather skin and contributes essential ingredients to shark fin soup.

But they, too, have a terrible image of killing humans. They patrol the oceans around the globe. They are diurnal and have a great sense of taste and smell to sense their prey in the vicinity.

They also have great auditory ability to echolocate their prey. Stafford Deitsch, a photographer, and diver, has been collecting Oceanic whitetip shark information and documenting it.

You may also like to go through Caribbean reef shark and great white shark facts if you like this article.

Oceanic Whitetip Shark Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an oceanic whitetip shark?

Oceanic whitetip sharks are large sharks. The oceanic whitetip’s name is so because of the white tip on its first dorsal fin, pectoral fin, and tail fin. Unlike other sharks, this particular shark’s dorsal fins and pectoral fins are distinctly rounded. The Oceanic whitetip shark fin, especially the pectoral, is paddle-like in shape.

What class of animal does an oceanic whitetip shark belong to?

The oceanic whitetip shark's scientific name is Carcharhinus longimanus, and it belongs to the Chondrichthyes class, the family Carcharhinidae. It belongs to the genus Carcharhinus and the order Carcharhiniformes. This class of sharks is known for their body made of cartilage instead of bones like other fishes. Oceanic whitetip sharks are large requiem sharks that prefer warmer waters.

How many oceanic whitetip sharks are there in the world?

The exact count of these fishes is unknown. Still, studies show that the sharks that were so common just a decade ago have become rare due to overfishing, both targeted or accidental bycatch by the high-seas tuna industry.

There has been a considerable reduction in the population of these oceanic whitetip sharks in the Western and Northwest Central Atlantic regions, and oceanic whitetip shark status is Critically Endangered.

Where does an oceanic whitetip shark live?

The Oceanic whitetip shark species live in the deep open ocean waters worldwide. They prefer warm waters and are found in subtropical and tropical waters and generally remain offshore in the open oceans on the outer continental shelf around 500 ft (152.4 m) deep from the surface. The oceanic whitetip shark's location or home range is unknown.

What is an oceanic whitetip shark’s habitat?

The Oceanic whitetip shark’s habitat is mainly ocean surface mixed layer in warm waters. Hence it is also known as a surface-dwelling shark.

They avoid colder or hotter temperatures and inhabit tropical and warm temperate seas. Oceanic whitetip sharks are found from the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. In the Indo-Pacific, they are found from the Red Sea to Peru.

Who do oceanic whitetip sharks live with?

Though the Oceanic whitetip shark is solitary and prefers living individually, they are seen together with Dolphins, Remora, and Pilot whales in their habitat. They follow schools of tuna or squid for food and compete with silky sharks for them.

How long does an oceanic whitetip shark live?

The lifespan of the oceanic whitetip shark is 19 years, but a few individual sharks are recorded as 36 years old. It’s a diurnal species and very active both during the day and night.

The oceanic whitetip shark will never stop moving. Oceanic whitetip shark jaws are always open. The Oceanic Whitetip shark cannot send water across their gills, so they continuously swim forward to obtain adequate oxygen from the water.

How do they reproduce?

The oceanic whitetip shark is produced by sexual reproduction. A female gives birth to young ones that are two feet in length at birth. They reach sexual maturity at around seven years of age.

The gestation period is between 10-12 months, and the litter size may vary between 1-14 young ones at a time. The mating season is in early summer in the northwest Atlantic Ocean and the southwest Indian Ocean. However, females captured in the Pacific have been found with embryos year-round, suggesting a more extended mating season.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN Red List, the Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) is Critically Endangered. Overfishing of this species has driven down its population significantly.

Hence, they are provided legal protection in some places, and measures are underway to arrest the downtrend in their population to protect these top predators from getting extinct. Stafford Deitsch, a deep-sea photographer, has been vocal about the issue and published related books and articles.

Oceanic Whitetip Shark Fun Facts

What do oceanic whitetip sharks look like?

Oceanic whitetip sharks are medium-sized requiem sharks with a stocky build. The oceanic whitetip shark's dorsal fin is rounded, unlike other sharks that have pointed fins.

The dorsal pectoral fins are paddle-like long fins. The upper side of the shark is gray-bronze, while the underside is white.

Depending on their locations, the upper side may vary from a little darker shade to lighter, whereas few have a slight yellow tinge to their whitish bottom. The dorsal and pectoral fins and the pelvic and caudal fins also have white tips and hence their name.

Underwater view of a whitetip reef shark hiding in corals.

*Please note that this is an image of a Whitetip Reef Shark, not an Oceanic Whitetip Shark. If you have a royalty-free image of an Oceanic Whitetip Shark, please let us know at

How cute are they?

These oceanic whitetips are quite cute and are found circling the boats and following the ships. The first dorsal fin and the second dorsal fin of the young have black spots.

They are slow swimmers and are generally found swimming around alone near the water’s surface and rarely in deep water. A saddle-like marking is observed between the first and second dorsal fins.

How do they communicate?

Oceanic whitetip sharks use electroreceptor organs on the snout to communicate through electrical fields between prey and themselves. The shark marks its territory by releasing pheromones. Body markings are also used as a way of communication and to establish social hierarchy within the species.

How big is an oceanic whitetip shark?

The oceanic whitetip shark's size is medium when compared to other sharks. It reaches a length of around eight feet. However, a few of the oceanic whitetip sharks have reached a maximum length of 13 ft (4 m) and weigh 375 lb (170 kg).

How fast can an oceanic whitetip shark swim?

Though the exact maximum speed at which these oceanic whitetip sharks can swim is not available, they are swift and furious when competing for food. But in general, they are slow swimmers and are constantly on the move but can surprise you with their bursts of speed while feeding.

How much does an oceanic whitetip shark weigh?

The oceanic whitetip shark's average weight is around 200 lb (90.71 kg). However, few of the oceanic whitetip reef sharks have reached a maximum weight of 370 lb (170 kg). The larger weight can be attributed to oceanic whitetip shark longevity.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female oceanic whitetips do not have any particular terms based on their gender. A group of shark species is known as a shiver.

What would you call a baby oceanic whitetip shark?

The oceanic whitetip shark baby does not have any particular name, but like the young ones of other sharks, these are also called pups. At birth, the pups of this species are around two feet long. Baby oceanic whitetip shark teeth are fully developed at their birth.

What do they eat?

The Oceanic whitetip shark is at the top of the food chain. Their primary choice is bony fish.

Fish including Oarfish, Lancet fish, Barracuda, and Cephalopods like squids, are essential parts of their diet. They feed on tuna, sea birds, and other sharks and rays and are accompanied by pilot whales during feeding and preying. The species prey on other mammals, including sea turtles and sea birds in deep water.

Oceanic whitetip sharks are known to scavenge on dead whales and dolphins with their flexible lower jaw and stronger upper teeth. The species don’t mind marine garbage also.

Are they dangerous?

Oceanic whitetip shark attacks happen while competing for food with silky sharks. They are opportunistic feeders, dominate other sharks during feeding activities, and are found in feeding frenzies. The species' boldness and unpredictable behavior are something to watch out for and ensure that you should not get deceived by these slow swimmers and their warm looks.

Would they make a good pet?

Oceanic whitetip sharks are shark species and sea dwellers. They are not the creatures you would have as a pet.

They are the ocean’s most feared predators. But it’s the trend to have one as a pet in luxury homes. Though it is legal to own a shark, they are costly and may cost anywhere between hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Did you know...

While the exact number is unclear, several people are believed to have died at the hands of Oceanic whitetip sharks. The steamship named Nova Scotia with around a thousand people was sunk by a German submarine near South Africa during WWII.

According to eyewitnesses, less than 200 people died, and the death of others was attributed to the Oceanic whitetip shark attack.

These fins are some of the most highly desirable for shark fin soup, and the liver oil is utilized in some vitamin capsules. The skin of this shark species is used for leather.

What water temperatures do oceanic whitetip sharks prefer?

Oceanic whitetip shark species prefer water temperatures between 68-82° F (20-28° C). Any deviation from this temperature zone will move on to more suitable areas for their sustainability.

What is another name for oceanic whitetip sharks and why?

Another popular name for these oceanic whitetip sharks is ‘Sea dogs’. Yes, it may sound funny, but this name comes from when they encounter something that appears as food and their consequent behavior underwater.

The shark seemingly follows the food source greedily and stubbornly but with caution. Even until the 16th century, they were similarly called common ship-following sharks. The Sea-dog fish has the habit of following the ship just like a dog follows its master even if driven off.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including the basking shark, or frilled shark.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our oceanic whitetip shark coloring pages.

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Written by Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason

Bachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason picture

Adekunle Olanrewaju JasonBachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

With over 3+ years of professional experience, Olanrewaju is a certified SEO Specialist and Content Writer. He holds a BSc in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. Throughout his dynamic career, Olanrewaju has successfully taken on various roles with startups and established organizations. He has served as a Technical Writer, Blogger, SEO Specialist, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing Manager. Known for his hardworking nature and insightful approach, Olanrewaju is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement.
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