Sea Creature Feature of the Week: Oceanic Whitetip Shark

The Oceanic Whitetip Shark gets its name from the patches on the ends of its dorsal, pectoral, and tail fins. This shark may be found all over the world in tropical and subtropical environments, primarily in the open ocean. Their body color varies depending on where you encounter them, but they are commonly grey to brown.

Unlike other sharks, the fins are rounded rather than pointed. The Oceanic Whitetip is a top predator that feeds on bony fish and cephalopods, as well as tuna, marling, sea birds, and other sharks and rays. Because their food might be scarce, they are opportunistic feeders, eating anything that comes their way. Since they can’t pump water over their gills, this species must continually swim forward; if they stop swimming, they stop breathing.

The Oceanic Whitetip Shark was classified as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List in 2018, with population trends showing a decline. The Oceanic Whitetip Shark is caught all around the world, both as a target and as bycatch in commercial fisheries. This species is also kept for its fins and occasionally for its meat. According to the IUCN, the Oceanic Whitetip Shark was added to CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, in 2013. It was the first and continues to remain the only shark species to be subject to prohibitions on retention, transshipment, storage, and landing by all four major RFMOS, or Regional Fishery Management Organizations.

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