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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The fast-swimming blacktip shark is an active fish that can be seen leaping out of the water and spinning before dropping back into the sea (2). This agile spinning behaviour is thought to be used while feeding on small schooling fishes, such as herrings or sardines. The sharks propel themselves vertically, up through the school, spinning and snapping in all directions until they breach the surface (2). As well as feeding on schools of small bony fish, the blacktip shark occasionally preys on squid, cuttlefish, octopi, crabs and lobsters (2). Blacktip sharks often occur in large schools, which with their highly energetic temperament, can result in competitive feeding frenzies when confronted with immense shoals of fish or the waste of a shrimp trawler being dumped overboard (2) (4). Mating in the blacktip shark occurs from May to June, and pregnancy lasts for about one year (5). The viviparous blacktip shark gives birth in shallow, coastal waters, to between one and ten pups in May or June. The young remain in the calm, food-rich nursery area until autumn (2) (5).
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Description

The black tip shark is a large, stout shark, with a long, pointed snout and small eyes (2). Its torpedo-shaped body, grey or grey-brown on the back and white on the belly (2), allows it to cut easily through the water (3), and a conspicuous white stripe runs along the flanks (2). As its name suggests, the pectoral fins, the second dorsal fin and the top part of the tail fin have black tips (2). The first dorsal fin and lower part of the tail fin are usually edged with black (2).
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Comprehensive Description

Description

  Common names: shark (English), tiburón (Espanol)
 
Carcharhinus limbatus (Muller & Henle, 1839)


Blacktip shark


Body fusiform, relatively slender to stout; snout moderately long and narrowly pointed, its length 1.3-1.7 in distance between nostrils; eye small; nasal flaps low and broadly triangular; lip furrows short; upper and lower front teeth nearly symmetrical and similar, points narrow, straight, serrated; no ridge on back between dorsal fins; first dorsal fin moderately large, broad and falcate, its origin over or slightly behind pectoral fin axil, its height 8.2-13.8% of TL, tip pointed; origin of second dorsal about over or slightly in front of anal fin origin.

Grey brown dorsally, shading to white ventrally;  a stripe of white to pale grey along midside extending into white of upper abdomen; black tips to all fins except upper lobe of tail fins.


Reported to reach 275 cm; size at birth 38-72 cm.

Habitat: Inshore to offshore pelagic, although not oceanic, in estuaries, shallow muddy bays, saline mangrove swamps.

Depth: 0-64 m.



Circumtropical distribution; California to Peru and the oceanic islands.
   
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Biology

An inshore and offshore shark found on or adjacent to continental and insular shelves (Ref. 244). Often off river mouths and estuaries, muddy bays, mangrove swamps, lagoons, and coral reef drop-offs (Ref. 244). Bottom associated or pelagic (Ref. 58302). Young common along beaches (Ref. 9710). Active hunter in midwater (Ref. 5485). Feeds mainly on pelagic and benthic fishes, also small sharks and rays, cephalopods and crustaceans (Ref. 5578; 37816). Viviparous (Ref. 50449). Produces litters of one to 10 young (Ref. 26938, 1602). Incriminated in very few attacks but dangerous when provoked (Ref. 244). Often taken by shore anglers (Ref. 5485). Used fresh for human consumption, hides for leather, liver for oil (Ref. 244). Parthenogenesis has been observed in a captive female (Ref. 80664).
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Distribution

Nova Scotia to Brazil
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Range Description

The Blacktip Shark is widespread in warm temperate, subtropical and tropical waters. Primarily it is a continental species, although it is found around some oceanic islands. In the western Atlantic it ranges from Massachusetts, United States, to southern Brazil; in the eastern Atlantic it is known from the Mediterranean Sea southwards to central Africa; it is widespread in the Indian Ocean from South Africa to western Australia, including the Red Sea and Persian Gulf; and in the Pacific Ocean it is recorded from throughout the Indo-Australian Archipelago, at oceanic islands such as Hawaii, Tahiti and the Marquesas, and in the eastern Pacific from California, USA, to Peru (Garrick 1982, Compagno 1984b, Last and Stevens 1994).
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Zoogeography

See Map (including site records) of Distribution in the Tropical Eastern Pacific 
 
Global Endemism: All species, TEP non-endemic, Circumtropical ( Indian + Pacific + Atlantic Oceans), "Transpacific" (East + Central &/or West Pacific), All Pacific (West + Central + East), East Pacific + Atlantic (East +/or West), Transisthmian (East Pacific + Atlantic of Central America), East Pacific + all Atlantic (East+West)

Regional Endemism: All species, Eastern Pacific non-endemic, Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic, Continent + Island (s), Continent, Island (s)

Residency: Resident

Climate Zone: North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California), Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap), Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos), Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo), South Temperate (Peruvian Province )
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Cosmopolitan. Western Atlantic: Nova Scotia, Canada to Brazil (Ref. 26340). Eastern Atlantic: Senegal to Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madeira, the Canary Islands, and Mediterranean. Indo-Pacific: Red Sea, Madagascar and South Africa to China, Australia, Tahiti, Marquesas, and Hawaii. Eastern Pacific: Baja California, Mexico to Peru, including the Galapagos Islands.
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Geographic Range

The blacktip shark is widespread in all tropical and subtropical continental waters. These waters include: the Western Atlantic Ocean (including the Caribbean Sea), the Eastern Atlantic, the Indo-West Pacific (Southeast Asia and Australian waters), Central Pacific (Hawaiian Islands), Eastern Pacific (Californian coast) as well as in the Red Sea (Compagno, 1984).

Biogeographic Regions: oceanic islands (Native ); indian ocean (Native ); atlantic ocean (Native ); pacific ocean (Native )

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Circumglobal in tropical through warm temperate seas (including Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Madagascar, Mascarenes, Hawaiian Islands).
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Depth

Depth Range (m): 0 (S) - 64 (S)
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Range

Occurs in all tropical and subtropical waters (2).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 0; Analspines: 0; Analsoft rays: 0
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Physical Description

Blacktip sharks are relatively large sharks, grey in color with a long pointed snout. They have small eyes. The teeth are narrow, erect and narrow-cusped serrated upper anterolatheral teeth (Compagno, 1984). Blacktips lack an interdorsal ridge and have relatively large pectoral fins (Compagno, 1984). The first dorsal fin is large with a black tip on the rear. The second dorsal fin is much smaller yet contains a black tip as well. Usually, most fins on the black tip sharks contain black tips (with the exception of the tail-fin) (Stafford-Deitsch, 1987).

Range mass: 30 to 100 kg.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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Size

Length max (cm): 275.0 (S)
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Size

Maximum size: 2600 mm TL
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Max. size

275 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 27169)); max. published weight: 122.8 kg (Ref. 4699); max. reported age: 12 years (Ref. 244)
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Diagnostic Description

Description

Found on the continental and insular shelves, commonly on turbid lagoons, inshore waters, estuaries, shallow muddy bays, and mangrove swamps at depths less than 30 m, occasionally found in passes or outer reef slopes. Young are common along beaches (Ref. 9710). Active hunter in midwater (Ref. 5485). Feeds mainly on fishes, less on cephalopods and crustaceans. Viviparous; litter size 1-10 pups; 38-72 cm at birth. Incriminated in very few attacks but dangerous when provoked. Pregnant females migrate to nursery areas (Ref. 9710). Often taken by shore anglers (Ref. 5485). Used fresh for human consumption, hides for leather, liver for oil.
  • Anon. (1996). FishBase 96 [CD-ROM]. ICLARM: Los Baños, Philippines. 1 cd-rom pp.
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A stout shark with a long, narrow, pointed snout, long gill slits and erect, narrow-cusped upper teeth; first dorsal fin high; no interdorsal ridge (Ref. 5578). Dark grey, ashy blue or dusky bronze on back, belly white or yellowish white; a dark band extending rearward along each side to about over origin of pelvic fin; tips of pelvic fins with a persistent black spot; tips of dorsal fins, pectoral fins, anal, and lower lobe of caudal fin usually black or dusky in young individuals, fading with growth (Ref. 9997).
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Type Information

Paralectotype; Syntype for Carcharhinus limbatus
Catalog Number: USNM 28202
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Collector(s): C. Gilbert
Year Collected: 1880
Locality: Mexico: Mazatlan., Sinaloa, Mexico, Pacific
  • Paralectotype: Howe, J. C. & Springer, V. G. 1993. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. No. 540: 2.; 1882. Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 5 (268): 104.; Syntype: Howe, J. C. & Springer, V. G. 1993. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. No. 540: 2.; 1882. Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 5 (268): 104.
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Lectotype; Syntype for Carcharhinus limbatus
Catalog Number: USNM 29549
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Collector(s): C. Gilbert
Year Collected: 1880
Locality: Mexico: Mazatlan., Sinaloa, Mexico, Pacific
  • Lectotype: Howe, J. C. & Springer, V. G. 1993. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. No. 540: 2.; 1882. Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 5 (268): 104.; Syntype: Howe, J. C. & Springer, V. G. 1993. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. No. 540: 2.; 1882. Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 5 (268): 104.
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Holotype; Type; Holotype for Carcharhinus limbatus
Catalog Number: USNM 79310
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Collector(s): S. Meek & S. Hildebrand
Year Collected: 1911
Locality: Panama Mkt., Panama, Panama Province, Panama, North America
  • Holotype: Snyder, J. O. 1904. Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission. 22 (for 1902): 513, fig. 1; pl. 1.; Howe, J. C. & Springer, V. G. 1993. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. No. 540: 8.; Type: Meek, S. E. & Hildebrand, S. F. 1923. Field Museum of Natural History Publication. Zoological Series. 15: 40, fig. 1; pl. 1.; Howe, J. C. & Springer, V. G. 1993. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. No. 540: 9.; Holotype: Meek, S. E. & Hildebrand, S. F. 1923. Field Museum of Natural History Publication. Zoological Series. 15: 40, fig. 1; pl. 1.; Howe, J. C. & Springer, V. G. 1993. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. No. 540: 9.
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Type; Holotype for Carcharhinus limbatus
Catalog Number: USNM 50612
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Preparation: Illustration
Collector(s): D. Jordan & B. Evermann
Locality: Honolulu, Hawaii, Oahu, Hawaii, United States, Hawaiian Islands, Pacific
  • Type: Jordan, D. S. & Evermann, B. W. 1903. Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission. 22 (for 1902): 163.; Howe, J. C. & Springer, V. G. 1993. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. No. 540: 11.; Holotype: Jordan, D. S. & Evermann, B. W. 1903. Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission. 22 (for 1902): 163.; Howe, J. C. & Springer, V. G. 1993. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. No. 540: 11.
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Ecology

Habitat

nektonic
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Found at depths of 0 - 30m.
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The Blacktip Shark occurs in nearshore waters off beaches, in bays, estuaries, over coral reefs and off river mouths. In the western North Atlantic it migrates north seasonally as far as Cape Cod, Massachusetts (Bigelow and Schroeder 1948) and is common year-round in southern areas of the USA. In this region males and females generally remain in sexually segregated schools outside of the mating season and off South Africa there is similar segregation in the local population (Dudley and Cliff 1993b).

This species commonly occurs in loose aggregations. The Blacktip Shark uses coastal bays and estuaries throughout the south-eastern US as nursery grounds (Castro 1996). It has an unusual habit of leaping from the water, rotating as many as three times, and falling back in the water, usually on its back. For this behaviour, as well as its similar morphology, it is often confused with the Spinner Shark.

The Blacktip Shark primarily eats bony fishes, but its diet also contains smaller amounts of crustaceans, such as shrimp and crabs and cephalopods (Bigelow and Schroeder 1948, Dudley and Cliff 1993b, Castro 1996). Small-sized elasmobranchs are also consumed in lesser quantities. This shark commonly follows fishing trawlers, consuming discarded bycatch and rarely attacking the cod ends of trawl nets.

The species is placentally viviparous producing 4?11 pups (mean 4?6) after an 11?12 month gestation period (Killam 1987, Dudley and Cliff 1993b, Castro 1996). Larger females produce more and larger pups. The females have a one-year resting stage between pregnancies, making the reproductive cycle a two-year event. In the western North Atlantic, mating occurs in early June through early July; in South Africa it occurs in November and December. Implantation usually occurs during the 10?11th weeks of gestation (when embryos measure 178?194 mm total length (TL)) and pups are born in late May-early June the next year. Pups occupy specific nursery grounds in shallow coastal waters away from the adult population, which may reduce predatory mortality on the cohorts. Pups are born at 53? 65 cm TL. The neonate stage lasts about a month and the juveniles continue to occupy nearshore nursery areas. Neonates increase by 25?30 cm during the first six months, have an annual growth of 20 cm during the second year of life and growth slows gradually through adulthood. This is a very fast growing species compared to its congeners. After reaching maturity, growth is less than 5 cm annually. The oldest fish aged have been 9?10 years of age. Von Bertalanffy growth parameters for western North Atlantic Blacktip Sharks are: Females: L? = 195 cm TL; k = 0.197 year-1 t = -1.15 year (Killam and Parsons 1989). Males: L? = 167 cm TL; k = 0.276 year-1 t = -0.88 year (Killam and Parsons 1989). Sexes combined: L? = 176 cm TL; k = 0.274 year-1 t = -1.2 year (Branstetter 1987).

There are regional differences in many biological parameters of Blacktip Sharks. In the western North Atlantic, males mature at 130?145 cm TL (or 4?5 years of age) and most females mature at 150?156 cm TL (or 6?7 years of age). In South Africa most males reach maturity at 146?150 cm pre-caudal length (PCL) and females at 151?155 cm PCL. The smallest pregnant female observed in South Africa was 146 cm PCL. Maximum reported size of females for the Northwest Atlantic population is 193 cm, with most large females ranging from 175?185 cm TL. Maximum reported size for males is 175 cm TL (128 cm PCL) and most are less than 165 cm TL in this region. In South Africa maximum sizes for both sexes occurs at 190 cm PCL, with modes of 161?165 cm PCL for males and 166?170 cm PCL for females. A female reaching 206 cm PCL has been recorded from the equatorial Indian Ocean The intrinsic rate of increase has been estimated at 0.054 (Smith et al. 1998). In the western North Atlantic, at approximately 100 cm TL the shark weighs about 10 kg, at 150 cm TL about 25 kg and when nearing maximum size (ca. 180 cm TL) it will weigh almost 50 kg. Weight-length relationships for Blacktip Sharks in this region are: Males: wt (kg) = 1.4 × 10-5(cm TL 2.9) (Killam 1987) Females: wt (kg) = 3.0 × 10?6 (cm TL 3.1) (Killam 1987) Sexes combined: wt (kg) = 1.44 × 10-5(cm TL 2.87) (Branstetter 1987a) For South African blacktips (Killam 1987), the relationships are: Males: wt (kg) = 1.18 × 10-5(cm PCL 3.05) Females: wt (kg) = 1.08 × 10-5(cm PCL 3.08).

Systems
  • Marine
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Environment

reef-associated; amphidromous (Ref. 51243); brackish; marine; depth range 0 - 64 m (Ref. 58302), usually 0 - 30 m (Ref. 55184)
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Blacktip sharks are common tropical, warm-temperate, inshore and offshore sharks (Stafford-Deitsch, 1987). They are often found on or near the continental and insular shelves. Blacktips are also commonly found close to the shore, in estuaries as well as river mouths (Stafford-Deitsch, 1987). They are also found in shallow muddy bays, mangrove swamps of high salinity, lagoons, coral reef dropoffs and in areas found far offshore (Compagno, 1984). Blacktip sharks usually stay in waters shallower than thirty meters and can handle freshwater environments but are rarely found in them (Compagno, 1984).

Aquatic Biomes: reef ; rivers and streams; coastal

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Depth range based on 62 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 46 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 2275
  Temperature range (°C): 3.166 - 27.666
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.174 - 30.534
  Salinity (PPS): 32.938 - 36.255
  Oxygen (ml/l): 0.177 - 6.150
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.106 - 2.280
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.756 - 27.849

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 2275

Temperature range (°C): 3.166 - 27.666

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.174 - 30.534

Salinity (PPS): 32.938 - 36.255

Oxygen (ml/l): 0.177 - 6.150

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.106 - 2.280

Silicate (umol/l): 0.756 - 27.849
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Depth: 0 - 30m.
Recorded at 30 meters.

Habitat: pelagic. Blacktip shark.  Muller & Henle, 1839 Attains 2.5 Metres. 8 pups born at 60 - 65 cm. Nervous but sometimes aggressive towards spearfishermen.
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Salinity: Marine, Brackish

Inshore/Offshore: Offshore, In & Offshore, Inshore

Water Column Position: Surface, Near Surface, Mid Water, Near Bottom, Bottom + water column

Habitat: Reef (rock &/or coral), Rocks, Corals, Reef and soft bottom, Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom), Soft bottom (mud, sand,gravel, beach, estuary & mangrove), Mud, Sand & gravel, Estuary, Mangrove, Water column

FishBase Habitat: Pelagic
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The blacktip shark is commonly found close inshore, around river mouths, estuaries, mangrove swamps and coral lagoons. They also inhabit waters far offshore, but are rarely found deeper than 30 metres (2).
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Migration

Amphidromous. Refers to fishes that regularly migrate between freshwater and the sea (in both directions), but not for the purpose of breeding, as in anadromous and catadromous species. Sub-division of diadromous. Migrations should be cyclical and predictable and cover more than 100 km.Characteristic elements in amphidromy are: reproduction in fresh water, passage to sea by newly hatched larvae, a period of feeding and growing at sea usually a few months long, return to fresh water of well-grown juveniles, a further period of feeding and growing in fresh water, followed by reproduction there (Ref. 82692).
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Trophic Strategy

Occurs on the continental shelf (Ref. 75154). Feeds on benthic invertebrates and fish (Ref. 11889).
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Food Habits

Blacktip sharks are primarily fish eaters (Taylor, 1993). The prey species include a number of bony fishes including sardines, menhaden, herring, anchovies, ten-pounders, sea catfish, coronetfish, tongue-soles, threadfins, mullet, spanish mackeral, jacks, groupers, snook, porgies, mojarras, emperors, grunts, slipjaws, butterfish, croakers, soles, tilapia, triggerfish, boxfish and porcupine fish (Compagno, 1984). Occasionally blacktips even consume small sharks. They also consume other aquatic organisms such as guitarfish, skates, butterfly rays, stingrays, eagle rays, squid, cuttlefish, octopi, crabs and lobsters (Compagno, 1984). Blacktips are quite prone to feeding frenzies when there is competition between sharks for a common abundant food source (Stafford-Deitsch, 1987).

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Feeding

Feeding Group: Carnivore

Diet: mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs), octopus/squid/cuttlefish, bony fishes, sharks/rays
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Diet

Feeds mainly on pelagic and benthic fishes, also small sharks and rays, cephalopods and crustaceans
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Life Cycle

Distinct pairing with embrace (Ref. 205). Viviparous, with a yolk-sac placenta, 1 to 10 young per litter. Gestation period is 10 to 12 months. Nursery and pupping grounds are located inshore where pregnant females go to drop their young. Females are thought to spawn only every two years. Size at birth 38-72 cm (Ref. 244); 55-66 cm TL (Ref.58048).
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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
12 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 12 years (wild) Observations: Unverified estimates suggest these animals may live up to 18 years (http://www.fishbase.org/).
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Reproduction

Female blacktips are viviparous and contain a yolk-sac placenta. The number of offspring per litter ranges from 1-10 (usually 4-7)(Compagno, 1984).

Gestation of the young lasts anywhere from 10-12 months (Compagno, 1984). The young are born in late spring or early summer. Pregnant females move inshore to drop their young in nursery and pupping grounds. Young are believed to be produced in alternate years by each female blacktip (Compagno, 1984).

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
2555 days.

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Egg Type: Live birth, No pelagic larva
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Carcharhinus limbatus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 40 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

AGTCTCCTAATTCGAGCTGAACTTGGGCAACCTGGATCACTTTGAGGGGAT---GATCAGATTTATAATGTAATCGTAACCGCCCTCGGTTTTGTAATTAACTTTTTTATAGTTATACCAATTATAATTGGTGGTTTTGGAAATTGACAAGTTCCTCTAATA---ATTGGTGCACCTGACATAGCCTTTCCACGAATAATTAACATAAGTTTCTGACTTCTTCCGCCATCATTTCTTCTCCTTCTCGCCTCTGCTGGAGTAGAAGCTGGGGCAGGTACTGGTTGAACAGTGTATCCTCCATTAGCTAGCAACTTAGCACATGCTGGACCATCTGTTGATTTA---GCCATTTTCTCTCTTCACTTAGCTGGTGTTTCATCAATCTTAGCTTCAATTAATTTTATTACAACTATTATTAATATAAAACCACCAGCCATTTCCCAATATCAAACACCATTATTTGTGTGATCTATTCTTGTAACCACTATTCTTCTTCTCCTTTCACTTCCAGTCCTTGCAGCA---GGGATTACAATATTACTTACAGATCGTAAC---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------CCT------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------CAA
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Carcharhinus limbatus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 41
Specimens with Barcodes: 109
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2009

Assessor/s
Burgess, H. G. & Branstetter, S.

Reviewer/s
Musick, J.A. & Fowler, S.L. (Shark Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
This assessment is based on the information published in the 2005 shark status survey (Fowler et al. 2005).

The Blacktip Shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) is a modest-sized species that is frequently captured in commercial and recreational fisheries. Its meat is well-regarded and its fins are highly marketable. The Blacktip Shark is widespread in warm-temperate, subtropical and tropical waters throughout the world. It frequents inshore waters as adults and has inshore nursery areas, making it highly vulnerable to fishing pressure and human-induced habitat alteration.

History
  • 1996
    Vulnerable
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As is true with many species of shark, blacktips have experienced reductions in their numbers. This is due to overfishing and killing of the shark. The blacktip however is still a relatively abundant species of shark and is currently not protected by federal law.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable

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IUCN Red List: Listed, Near threatened

CITES: Not listed
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Status

Classified as Lower Risk / Near Threatened (LR/nt) on the IUCN Red List (1).
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Population

Population
The Blacktip Shark is common in nearshore waters. It may be the most abundant large-coastal species in the north-west Gulf of Mexico (Branstetter 1981a).

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
In the western North Atlantic this species has long been important in the recreational fishery and now is a primary target of the directed commercial fishery along the southeast coast from South Carolina to Florida and throughout the Gulf of Mexico (Branstetter and Burgess 1996, 1997). It is the second most important commercially landed species in that region after the Sandbar Shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus) and its meat is considered superior to the latter species. In the USA, Blacktip Shark other carcharhinid meat is often sold under the name ?Blacktip Shark? because of wide consumer preference for the product. It is a significant constituent of the substantial Mexican shark catch, from both Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Elsewhere, it is the most commonly caught species in the large Indian fishery (Hanfee 1996), occasionally caught in the Mediterranean Sea driftnet fishery (Walker et al. 2005), and surely constitutes a sizeable portion of the catch in smaller scale and artisanal fisheries throughout the northern Indian Ocean and South China Sea. In Australia, it represents a minor component of the shark catch in northern Australia (Last and Stevens 1994). Blacktip Shark meat is primarily consumed locally and fins are dried and shipped to the Far East where they are used in preparing shark-fin soup. In some areas the hides are utilised in preparing leather and the livers are used to extract oil.
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Near Threatened (NT)
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The primary threat facing the blacktip shark comes from commercial and recreational fisheries (1). The flesh is consumed by humans or used in fishmeal, hides are used for leather, fins can be sold to Asian markets for shark fin soup, and the livers provide vitamin-rich oil (2). The blacktip shark's inshore habitat is also vulnerable to the impacts of human activities, which can alter or degrade critical nursery areas (1).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The Blacktip Shark receives management in only two countries, Australia and the USA. In Australia, it is one of a suite of species that is collectively managed in the limited-entry fishery of northern Australia (Simpfendorfer pers. comm.). A keystone species in the US Atlantic directed shark fishery, it similarly is managed through a management plan that addresses the entire group of species represented in the fishery. At the time of this writing, species-specific management of the Blacktip Shark in the region was forthcoming.
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Conservation

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) considers the blacktip shark to not yet be at risk of extinction (1), as there is no evidence of any population declines. However, as the blacktip shark is fished, and inhabits areas vulnerable to degradation, it comes close to being classified as Vulnerable (1). Hopefully, careful fisheries management, and measures to protect coastal habitats will ensure that the blacktip shark never moves into this category.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: commercial; gamefish: yes
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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There have been instances of blacktip attacks on humans, though these instances are very rare. It is also common for blacktips to get caught in shrimp trawl nets (Compagno, 1984; Taylor, 1993).

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Blacktips are used as a food source for human consumption. Their hide can be used to make leather goods. Due to the high vitamin content of the liver oil, it is used for vitamins. The dead carcasses can also be used as fish meal (Compagno, 1984).

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Wikipedia

Blacktip shark

Not to be confused with the blacktip reef shark, Carcharhinus melanopterus.

The blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) is a species of requiem shark, and part of the family Carcharhinidae. It is common to coastal tropical and subtropical waters around the world, including brackish habitats. Genetic analyses have revealed substantial variation within this species, with populations from the western Atlantic Ocean isolated and distinct from those in the rest of its range. The blacktip shark has a stout, fusiform body with a pointed snout, long gill slits, and no ridge between the dorsal fins. Most individuals have black tips or edges on the pectoral, dorsal, pelvic, and caudal fins. It usually attains a length of 1.5 m (4.9 ft).

Swift, energetic piscivores, blacktip sharks are known to make spinning leaps out of the water while attacking schools of small fish. Their demeanor has been described as "timid" compared to other large requiem sharks. Both juveniles and adults form groups of varying size. Like other members of its family, the blacktip shark is viviparous; females bear 1–10 pups every other year. Young blacktip sharks spend the first months of their lives in shallow nurseries, and grown females will return to the nurseries where they were born to give birth themselves. In the absence of males, females are also capable of asexual reproduction.

Normally wary of humans, blacktip sharks can become aggressive in the presence of food and have been responsible for a number of attacks on people. This species is of importance to both commercial and recreational fisheries across many parts of its range, with its meat, skin, fins, and liver oil used. It has been assessed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), on the basis of its low reproductive rate and high value to fishers.

Taxonomy[edit]

The blacktip shark was first described by French zoologist Achille Valenciennes as Carcharias (Prionodon) limbatus in Johannes Müller and Friedrich Henle's 1839 Systematische Beschreibung der Plagiostomen. The type specimens were two individuals caught off Martinique, both of which have since been lost. Later authors moved this species to the genus Carcharhinus.[1][2] The specific epithet limbatus is Latin for "bordered", referring to the black edges of this shark's fins.[3] Other common names used for the blacktip shark include blackfin shark, blacktip whaler, common or small blacktip shark, grey shark, and spotfin ground shark.[4]

Phylogeny and evolution[edit]

The closest relatives of the blacktip shark were originally thought to be the graceful shark (C. amblyrhynchoides) and the spinner shark (C. brevipinna), due to similarities in morphology and behavior. However, this interpretation has not been borne out by studies of mitochondrial and ribosomal DNA, which instead suggest affinity with the blacknose shark (C. acronotus). More work is required to fully resolve the relationship between the blacktip shark and other Carcharhinus species.[5]

Analysis of mitochondrial DNA has also revealed two distinct lineages within this species, one occupying the western Atlantic and the other occupying the eastern Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. This suggests that Indo-Pacific blacktip sharks are descended from those in the eastern Atlantic, while the western Atlantic sharks became isolated by the widening Atlantic Ocean on one side and the formation of the Isthmus of Panama on the other. Blacktip sharks from these two regions differ in morphology, coloration, and life history characteristics, and the eastern Atlantic lineage may merit species status.[6] Fossil teeth belonging to this species have been found in Early Miocene (23–16 Ma) deposits in Delaware and Florida.[7][8]

Description[edit]

The blacktip shark has black markings on most of its fins.

The blacktip shark has a robust, streamlined body with a long, pointed snout and relatively small eyes. The five pairs of gill slits are longer than those of similar requiem shark species.[1] The jaws contain 15 tooth rows on either side, with 2 symphysial teeth (at the jaw midline) in the upper jaw and 1 symphysial tooth in the lower jaw. The teeth are broad-based with a high, narrow cusp and serrated edges.[2] The first dorsal fin is tall and falcate (sickle-shaped) with a short free rear tip; there is no ridge running between the first and second dorsal fins. The large pectoral fins are falcate and pointed.[1]

The coloration is gray to brown above and white below, with a conspicuous white stripe running along the sides. The pectoral fins, second dorsal fin, and the lower lobe of the caudal fin usually have black tips. The pelvic fins and rarely the anal fin may also be black-tipped. The first dorsal fin and the upper lobe of the caudal fin typically have black edges.[1] Some larger individuals have unmarked or nearly unmarked fins.[3] Blacktip sharks can temporarily lose almost all their colors during blooms, or "whitings", of coccolithophores.[9] This species attains a maximum known length of 2.8 m (9.0 ft), though 1.5 m (4.9 ft) is more typical, and a maximum known weight of 123 kg (271 lb).[4]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

A blacktip shark swimming in murky water off Oahu, Hawaii

The blacktip shark has a worldwide distribution in tropical and subtropical waters. In the Atlantic, it is found from Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, and from the Mediterranean Sea, Madeira, and the Canary Islands to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It occurs all around the periphery of the Indian Ocean, from South Africa and Madagascar to the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent, to Southeast Asia. In the western Pacific, it is found from southern China to northern Australia, including the Philippines and Indonesia. In the eastern Pacific, it occurs from Baja California to Peru. It has also been reported at a number of Pacific islands, including New Caledonia, Tahiti, the Marquesas, Hawaii, Revillagigedo, and the Galápagos.[1]

Most blacktip sharks are found in water less than 30 m (100 ft) deep over continental and insular shelves, though they may dive to 64 m (210 ft).[4] Favored habitats are muddy bays, island lagoons, and the drop-offs near coral reefs; they are also tolerant of low salinity and enter estuaries and mangrove swamps. Although an individual may be found some distance offshore, blacktip sharks do not inhabit oceanic waters.[1] Seasonal migration has been documented for the population off the east coast of the United States, moving north to North Carolina in the summer and south to Florida in the winter.[10]

Biology and ecology[edit]

The blacktip shark is an extremely fast, energetic predator that is usually found in groups of varying size.[3] There is segregation by sex and age; adult males and non-pregnant females are found apart from pregnant females, and both are separated from juveniles.[1] In Terra Ceia Bay, Florida, a nursery area for this species, juvenile blacktips form aggregations during the day and disperse at night. They aggregate most strongly in the early summer when the sharks are youngest, suggesting that they are seeking refuge from predators (mostly larger sharks) in numbers.[11] Predator avoidance may also be the reason why juvenile blacktips do not congregate in the areas of highest prey density in the bay.[12] Adults have no known predators.[2] Known parasites of the blacktip shark include the copepods Pandarus sinuatus and P. smithii, and the monogeneans Dermophthirius penneri and Dionchus spp., which attach the shark's skin.[2][13][14] This species is also parasitized by nematodes in the family Philometridae, which infest the ovaries.[15]

Behavior[edit]

Blacktip sharks are social and usually found in groups.

Like the spinner shark, the blacktip shark is known to leap out of the water and spin three to four times about its axis before landing. Some of these jumps are the end product of feeding runs, in which the shark corkscrews vertically through schools of small fish and its momentum launches it into the air.[3] Observations in the Bahamas suggest that blacktip sharks may also jump out of the water to dislodge attached sharksuckers (Echeneis naucrates), which irritate the shark's skin and compromise its hydrodynamic shape.[16] The speed attained by the shark during these jumps has been estimated to average 6.3 m/s (21 ft/s).[17]

Blacktip sharks have a timid disposition and consistently lose out to Galapagos sharks (C. galapagensis) and silvertip sharks (C. albimarginatus) of equal size when competing for food.[1] If threatened or challenged, they may perform an agonistic display: the shark swims towards the threat and then turns away, while rolling from side to side, lowering its pectoral fins, tilting its head and tail upwards, and making sideways biting motions. The entire sequence lasts around 25 seconds. This behavior is similar to the actions of a shark attempting to move a sharksucker; it is possible that one of these behaviors is derived from the other.[18]

Feeding[edit]

Fish make up some 90% of the blacktip shark's diet.[19] A wide variety of fish have been recorded as prey for this species: sardines, herring, anchovies, ladyfish, sea catfish, cornetfish, flatfish, threadfins, mullet, mackerel, jacks, groupers, snook, porgies, mojarras, emperors, grunts, butterfish, tilapia, triggerfish, boxfish, and porcupinefish. They also feed on rays and skates, as well as smaller sharks such as smoothhounds and sharpnose sharks. Crustaceans and cephalopods are occasionally taken.[1] In the Gulf of Mexico, the most important prey of the blacktip shark is the Gulf menhaden (Brevoortia patronus), followed by the Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus).[19] Off South Africa, jacks and herring are the most important prey.[20] Hunting peaks at dawn and dusk.[19] The excitability and sociability of blacktip sharks makes them prone to feeding frenzies when large quantities of food are suddenly available, such as when fishing vessels dump their refuse overboard.[1]

Life history[edit]

As with other requiem sharks, the blacktip shark exhibits vivipary. Females typically give birth to 4–7 (range 1–10) pups every other year, making use of shallow coastal nurseries that offer plentiful food and fewer predators.[1] Known nurseries include Pine Island Sound, Terra Ceia Bay, and Yankeetown along the Gulf coast of Florida, Bulls Bay on the coast of South Carolina, and Pontal do Paraná on the coast of Brazil.[21][22] Although adult blacktip sharks are highly mobile and disperse over long distances, they are philopatric and return to their original nursery areas to give birth. This results in a series of genetically distinct breeding stocks that overlap in geographic range.[21][23]

Mating occurs from spring to early summer, and the young are born at around the same time the following year after a gestation period of 10–12 months.[1] Females have one functional ovary and two functional uteruses; each uterus is separated into compartments with a single embryo inside each.[24] The embryos are initially sustained by a yolk sac; in the 10th or 11th week of gestation, when the embryo measures 18–19 cm long (7.1–7.5 in), the supply of yolk is exhausted and the yolk sac develops into a placental connection that sustains the embryo until birth.[10] The length at birth is 55–60 cm (22–24 in) off the eastern United States and 61–65 cm (24–26 in) off North Africa.[10][24] The mortality rate in the first 15 months of life is 61–91%, with major threats being predation and starvation.[25] The young remain in the nurseries until their first fall, at which time they migrate to their wintering grounds.[10]

The growth rate of this species slows with age: 25–30 cm (10–12 in) in the first six months, then 20 cm (8 in) a year until the second year, then 10 cm (4 in) a year until maturation, then 5 cm (2 in) a year for adults.[26][27] The size at maturity varies geographically: males and females mature at 1.4–1.5 m (4.6–4.9 ft) and 1.6 m (5.2 ft) respectively in the northeastern Atlantic,[10] 1.3–1.4 m (4.3–4.6 ft) and 1.5–1.6 m (4.9–5.2 ft) respectively in the Gulf of Mexico,[26][28] 1.5 m (4.9 ft) and 1.6 m (5.2 ft) respectively off South Africa,[29] and 1.7 m (5.6 ft) and 1.8 m (5.9 ft) respectively off North Africa.[24] The age at maturation is 4–5 years for males and 7–8 years for females.[26][28] The lifespan is at least 12 years.[1]

In 2007, a 9-year-old female blacktip shark at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center was found to be pregnant with a single near-term female pup, despite having never mated with a male. Genetic analysis confirmed that her offspring was the product of automictic parthenogenesis, a form of asexual reproduction in which an ovum merges with a polar body to form a zygote without fertilization. Along with an earlier case of parthenogenesis in the bonnethead (Sphyrna tiburo), this event suggests that asexual reproduction may be more widespread in sharks than previously thought.[30]

Human interactions[edit]

The blacktip shark usually poses little danger to divers.

There are reports of blacktip sharks showing curiosity towards divers, but remaining at a safe distance. Under most circumstances, this timid shark is not regarded as highly dangerous to humans. However, they may become aggressive in the presence of food, and their size and speed invite respect.[1] As of 2008, the International Shark Attack File lists 28 unprovoked attacks (one fatal) and 13 provoked attacks by this species.[31] Blacktip sharks are responsible annually for 16% of the shark attacks around Florida. Most attacks by this species result in only minor wounds.[2]

As one of the most common large sharks in coastal waters, the blacktip shark is caught in large numbers by commercial fisheries throughout the world, using longlines, fixed bottom nets, bottom trawls, and hook-and-line. The meat is of high quality and marketed fresh, frozen, or dried and salted. In addition, the fins are used for shark fin soup, the skin for leather, the liver oil for vitamins, and the carcasses for fishmeal.[1] Blacktip sharks are one of the most important species to the northwestern Atlantic shark fishery, second only to the sandbar shark (C. plumbeus). The flesh is considered superior to that of the sandbar shark, resulting in the sandbar and other requiem shark species being sold under the name "blacktip shark" in the United States. The blacktip shark is also very significant to Indian and Mexican fisheries, and is caught in varying numbers by fisheries in the Mediterranean, South China Sea, and off northern Australia.[27]

The blacktip shark is popular with recreational anglers in Florida, the Caribbean, and South Africa. It is listed as a game fish by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). Once hooked, this species is a strong, steady fighter that sometimes jumps out of the water.[2] Since 1995, the number of blacktip sharks taken by recreational anglers in the United States has approached or surpassed the number taken by commercial fishing.[27] The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed the blacktip shark as Near Threatened, as its low reproductive rate renders it vulnerable to overfishing.[32] The United States and Australia are the only two countries that manage fisheries catching blacktip sharks. In both cases, regulation occurs under umbrella management schemes for multiple shark species, such as that for the Large Coastal Sharks (LCS) category of the US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Atlantic shark Fisheries Management Plan (FMP). No conservation plans specifically for this species have been implemented.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Compagno, L.J.V. (1984). Sharks of the World: An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Shark Species Known to Date. Rome: Food and Agricultural Organization. pp. 481–483. ISBN 92-5-101384-5. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Curtis, T. Biological Profiles: Blacktip Shark. Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department. Retrieved on April 27, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d Ebert, D.A. (2003). Sharks, Rays, and Chimaeras of California. London: University of California Press. pp. 156–157. ISBN 0-520-23484-7. 
  4. ^ a b c Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2009). "Carcharhinus limbatus" in FishBase. April 2009 version.
  5. ^ Dosay-Akbulut, M. (2008). "The phylogenetic relationship within the genus Carcharhinus". Comptes Rendus Biologies 331 (7): 500–509. doi:10.1016/j.crvi.2008.04.001. PMID 18558373. 
  6. ^ Keeney, D.B. and Heist, E.J. (October 2006). "Worldwide phylogeography of the blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) inferred from mitochondrial DNA reveals isolation of western Atlantic populations coupled with recent Pacific dispersal". Molecular Ecology 15 (12): 3669–3679. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2006.03036.x. PMID 17032265. 
  7. ^ Benson. R.N., ed. (1998). Geology and Paleontology of the Lower Miocene Pollack Farm Fossil Site, Delaware: Delaware Geological Survey Special Publication No. 21. Delaware Natural History Survey. pp. 133–139. 
  8. ^ Brown, R.C. (2008). Florida's Fossils: Guide to Location, Identification, and Enjoyment (third ed.). Pineapple Press Inc. p. 100. ISBN 1-56164-409-9. 
  9. ^ Martin, R.A. Albinism in Sharks. ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research. Retrieved on April 28, 2009.
  10. ^ a b c d e Castro, J.I. (November 1996). "Biology of the blacktip shark, Carcharhinus limbatus, off the southeastern United States". Bulletin of Marine Science 59 (3): 508–522. 
  11. ^ Heupel, M.R. and Simpfendorfer, C.A. (2005). "Quantitative analysis of aggregation behavior in juvenile blacktip sharks". Marine Biology 147: 1239–1249. doi:10.1007/s00227-005-0004-7. 
  12. ^ Heupel, M.R. and Hueter, R.E. (2002). "The importance of prey density in relation to the movement patterns of juvenile sharks within a coastal nursery area". Marine and Freshwater Research 53: 543–550. doi:10.1071/MF01132. 
  13. ^ Bullard, S.A., Frasca, A. (Jr.) and Benz, G.W. (June 2000). "Skin Lesions Caused by Dermophthirius penneri (Monogenea: Microbothriidae) on Wild-Caught Blacktip Sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus)". Journal of Parasitology 86 (3): 618–622. doi:10.1645/0022-3395(2000)086[0618:SLCBDP]2.0.CO;2. 
  14. ^ Bullard, S.A., Benz, G.W. and Braswell, J.S. (2000). "Dionchus postoncomiracidia (Monogenea: Dionchidae) from the skin of blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus (Carcharhinidae)". Journal of Parasitology (86): 245–250. 
  15. ^ Rosa-Molinar, E. and Williams, C.S. (1983). "Larval nematodes (Philometridae) in granulomas in ovaries of blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus (Valenciennes)". Journal of Wildlife Diseases 19 (3): 275–277. doi:10.7589/0090-3558-19.3.275. PMID 6644926. 
  16. ^ Riner, E.K. and Brijnnschweiler, J.M. (2003). "Do sharksuckers, Echeneis naucrates, induce jump behaviour in blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus?". Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology 36 (2): 111–113. doi:10.1080/1023624031000119584. 
  17. ^ Brunnschweiler, J.M. (2005). "Water-escape velocities in jumping blacktip sharks". Journal of the Royal Society Interface 2 (4): 389–391. doi:10.1098/rsif.2005.0047. PMC 1578268. PMID 16849197. 
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