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Blacktip shark

Blacktip shark in Galapagos
© Sophie Stanek

Common name:

Blacktip shark

Scientific name:

Carcharhinus limbatus

Spanish name:

Tiburón de puntas negras

Conservation status:



Average lifespan:

10+ years

Average size:

2 metres

Maximum size:

2.4 metres

Average weight:

60 kilograms

Maximum weight:

100 kilograms


The blacktip shark is a common shark which can be found across all the world’s oceans. It prefers warm, shallow coastal waters and estuaries as opposed to the deep open ocean. It is small to average-sized with a short, bluntly rounded snout and horizontally oval eyes. It is dark grey in colour with black marks on the ends of all its fins. This species reaches maturity at about four to five years of age and often lives longer than 10 years. The shark usually gives birth to four to six pups in each litter, and the Galapagos Marine Reserve provides important sites for their pupping grounds. Fish make up 90% of their diet, but they will also feed on rays, skates and smaller sharks. 

There are two distinct lineages within the species: one found in the western Atlantic, and the other in the eastern Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. They differ in morphology, colouration and life histories but research has yet to be carried out to determine if they are two different species. In Galapagos, they are found in large aggregations. 

Blacktip sharks in Galapagos

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