Carcharhinus limbatus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Carcharhiniformes Carcharhinidae

Scientific Name: Carcharhinus limbatus (Müller & Henle, 1839)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Blacktip Shark
Carcharhinus natator Meek & Hildebrand, 1923
Carcharias limbatus Müller & Henle, 1839
Carcharias abbreviatus Klunzinger, 1871
Carcharias aethalorus Jordan & Gilbert, 1882
Carcharias ehrenbergi Klunzinger, 1871
Carcharias maculipinna Günther, 1868
Carcharias microps Lowe, 1841
Carcharias muelleri Steindachner, 1867
Carcharias phorcys Jordan & Evermann, 1903
Carcharias pleurotaenia Bleeker, 1852
Eulamia pleurotaenia (Bleeker, 1852)
Gymnorhinus abbreviatus (Klunzinger, 1871)
Taxonomic Source(s): Müller, J. and Henle, F.G.J. 1838. Systematische Beschreibung der Plagiostomen. Veit und Comp, Berlin.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2005-10-01
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Burgess, H. G. & Branstetter, S.
Reviewer(s): Musick, J.A. & Fowler, S.L. (Shark Red List Authority)
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.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

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).
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Algeria; Angola; Australia (Northern Territory, Western Australia); Bahrain; Belize; Benin; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Brazil; Cameroon; Colombia; Congo; Costa Rica; Croatia; Ecuador; Egypt; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; France; French Guiana; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Greece; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Guyana; Honduras; Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Italy; Kuwait; Lebanon; Liberia; Libya; Malaysia; Mauritania; Mexico; Morocco; Myanmar; Nicaragua; Nigeria; Oman; Panama; Papua New Guinea; Peru; Philippines; Qatar; Samoa; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Serbia; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; Spain; Sudan; Suriname; Syrian Arab Republic; Thailand; Togo; Tonga; Tunisia; Turkey; United Arab Emirates; United States (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia); Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Western Sahara; Yemen
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – southeast; Atlantic – western central; Atlantic – northwest; Atlantic – southwest; Atlantic – eastern central; Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Mediterranean and Black Sea; Pacific – western central; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southeast
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

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).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

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).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Fished for recreational fisheries, but mainly targeted in commercial fisheries. 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.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): 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.

Conservation Actions [top]

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.

Citation: Burgess, H. G. & Branstetter, S. 2009. Carcharhinus limbatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T3851A10124862. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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