Scientific Name: Carcharhinus longimanus
Common Name: Oceanic Whitetip, Oceanic shark, Lesser White Shark, Sea dogs, Sea Wolves, Brown Milbert's Sandbar, Nigano Shark, Brown Shark, Whitetip Whaler, and Sailor's Shadow.
Distribution and Habitat: The Oceanic Whitetip is a pelagic species found globally in the open ocean. These sharks prefer temperate environments and rarely venture into waters colder than 20 °C (68 °F) or warmer than 28 °C (82 °F). Although these sharks were once extremely common open water animals, due to over finning and long line fishing their populations have dropped dramatically in recent years. Some scientists believe than their total population decline approaches a massive 70% of original numbers. These sharks tend to travel along the offshore currents and deep ocean areas ranging from the ocean surface to around 500 ft in depth. Although not normally found closer to shore they have been known to venture into shallower waters less than 140 ft while occupying mid-ocean islands, shallow continental shelves, or sea mounts. The are generally a solitary shark species, but have been known to gather in surprising numbers during plentiful feeding. These sharks swim extremely slow often times allowing ocean currents to do the majority of the work while gliding along on great pectoral fins. They have been called the albatross's of the sea, and are one of the most nomadic species on the planet. Although these sharks do not school with members of their own species unless feeding or mating, they have been known to travel with pilot fish, dolphin-fish, remoras, barracuda, and even in some cases certain pelagic whale species such as the short-fin pilot whale.
Anatomy and Appearance: The Oceanic Whitetip shark has extremely long fins used for long distance swimming and minimal energy loss. Its pectoral fins are rounded at the tip instead of pointed and mimic the wings of a plane while moving. Its dorsal fin is much shorter and is primarily used for balance while its caudal fin is large and powerful. The Oceanic Whitetip is an almost bronze or brown color with a white or cream colored ventral belly. The tips of its fins are tipped in splotched white hence its name. The white tips of its fins can also have tiny specks of black or even gold mixed in within. The largest specimen ever caught measured 4 m (13 ft), an exceptionally large size considering few specimens are known to exceed a length of 3 m (9.8 ft). The maximum reported weight is 170 kg (370 lb). The female is typically larger than the male by 10 cm (3.9 in). Males attain sexual maturity at 1.7 to 1.9 m (5.6 to 6.2 ft) and females about 1.8 to 2 m (5.9 to 6.6 ft).
Diet, Hunting and Feeding Behavior: The Oceanic Whitetip's primary food source are bony fishes including: lancetfish, oarfish, barracuda, jacks, marlin, tuna, mackerel, swordfish, but also include: sea turtles, sea birds, gastropods, cetaceans, and terrestrial animals which become stranded in its oceanic habitat. Although Oceanic Whitetips are considered slow swimmers they have surprising bursts of speed while hunting and tend to have an extremely aggressive nature while feeding or competing for food with other marine fauna. They are considered a high strung and quick tempered shark, often becoming stubborn and refusing to leave an area after being driven off repeatably. Oceanic Whitetips will become so aggressive while competing for food that they often drive off and intimidate larger more dangerous marine predators in the process. Oceanic Whitetips will often follow a schooling food source for days while stalking prey or will follow ships or large marine mammals waiting patiently for a chance to scavenge larger prey. They were also noted for following whaling ships until the ships would make a kill then the sharks would rush the injured or dead whale and tear off massive amounts of flesh and blubber before the sailors could pull in the whale carcass. Oceanic Whitetips are also extremely dangerous when it comes to plane crash or shipwreck survivors. They will follow survivors for days and feed on any dead bodies floating nearby. One of their most promenent moments in history was after the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in the Pacific and the Nova Scotia near South Africa in the Atlantic. Theses sharks are believed to have killed hundreds of the initial surviving ship wreck victims although not nearly the amount that history exploits them for. Overall they are an extremely efficient desert water predator that is one of the most notable survivors in the shark world.
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