OCEANIC BLACKTIP SHARK

Carcharhinus limbatus

Where you can see them:
Protea Banks | Aliwal Shoal

OCEANIC BLACKTIP SHARK SOUTH AFRICA

The Blacktip Shark is a fast and sometimes aggressive predator and generally hunts in the mid-water region of inshore areas. It can withstand short periods of reduced salinity and may, therefore, be encountered near river mouths and estuaries, which account for why it is so commonly found on Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks off KwaZulu/Natal. The diet consists largely of bony fish including fast gamefish, the juveniles of other shark species, stingrays, cuttlefish and crayfish. During the summer, pregnant females move to specific nursery areas where they give birth to 6-8 young. The Blacktip Shark is potentially dangerous to bathers, but there are no recorded incidents of Blacktip’s harassing divers. Blacktips are commonly encountered when doing a baited, or reef dive, on both Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks.

Medium in build, with a pointed snout. Many of the fins are black tipped, although the anal fin is rarely so. If a straight line is drawn linking the front of the nostrils, the distance between the snout and the line is equal to that between the line and the upper lip. This feature, together with a larger first dorsal fin and larger, finely serrated teeth distinguishes it from the longer snouted spinner shark. Usual tooth count 15-2/3-15 / 15-1-15

 Distribution

It inhabits coastal waters including the mouths of large rivers of KwaZulu-Natal and Mozambique. It may venture into Cape waters.

Reproduction

Males mature at 150 cm (6 years) and females at 156 cm (7 years). Mating occurs in summer. Placental viviparous development; litter size varies from 6-11. Birth takes place the following summer at a length of 50 cm. Attains 190 cm (about 14 years). Longevity up to 17 years.

 Feeding

It is an active and speedy hunter, preying mainly on a variety of fish, cephalopods and very small sharks.

 Behaviour

Although responsible for few attacks, it is potentially dangerous. Described by spear fishermen as fast moving and nervous, occasionally aggressive when fish have been speared.

The likelihood of encountering a Blacktip Shark when on a diving safari to South Africa?

Blacktip Sharks are common residents off South Africa and are encountered mainly in and off river mouths, hence there are very common encounters of Blacktips off both Aliwal and Protea Banks all year round. Expect to see Blacktip Sharks on all your “baited” and reef dives of Aliwal and Protea Banks all year round. Refer to Dive The Big 5’s Shark Timetable

Shark Time Table

Please note that the Sharks have not read this timetable so they have no idea where they are supposed to be, and when. This Timetable is purely a guide!

Remember, our daily average winter month temperature is higher that the UK average summer month temperature.

When are you most likely to see Blacktip Sharks