The oceanic whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus) is a member of the requiem family of sharks – a group of tropical and temperate water, active predatory species characterized by a torpedo-shaped body, long migrations, and bearing live young. Whitetips are found patrolling coral reefs all across the Indo-Pacific, as well as some regions of the Atlantic. They are opportunistic feeders, going after a variety of pelagic fishes, squid, seabirds, and turtles. Although some instances of attacks on humans have been reported, it’s important to remember that these are exceptionally rare, and often times the shark species is misidentified. Like other sharks, we are more of a threat to them and they are to us; whitetips have faced steep population declines over the last decades, especially as their large fins are highly valued in the shark fin trade.
Here the shark is shown accompanied by a group of pilot fish – a common mutualist of sharks that feed on parasites from their host, and little scraps of food that the shark drops. In return, the shark acts as a personal bodyguard, protecting the fish from any predators.
Remember: the oceans needs sharks! 🦈 don’t be afraid to learn more and help protect these wonderful animals.