The silvertip shark's name, albimarginatus, derives from the Latin words “albi” meaning white and “marginatus” meaning to enclose with a border. And the common name comes from the white tips and borders on the fins.
  • Size

    6-8 feet (2-2.4 m)
  • Diet

    Fish, small sharks and rays, cephalopods, octopuses, squids and crustaceans
  • Range

    Western Indian Ocean
  • Habitat

    Offshore islands, coral banks and reefs

Physical Characteristics

  • The body is long and slender with a broad, rounded snout and distinct large eyes.
  • 12-14 strong, serrated teeth in both the lower and upper jaw.
  • Large pectoral fins that are narrowly rounded or pointed at the tips.
  • Coloration varies between a dark gray, brown-gray or blue-gray dorsal surface with a bronzy sheen that fades into a white ventral surface.
  • The most distinguishing feature is the white tips and borders on all fins.
  • Closely resembles the grey reef shark and the whitetip reef shark. These species differ slightly in coloration; the grey reef shark has dark tips on its pectoral fins and the whitetip reef shark only has the white tip on the dorsal fin, not the pectoral fins.
  • Common length between 6-8 feet (2-2.4 m).
  • The maximum recorded length is 9.8 feet (2.9 m).
  • The maximum recorded weight is 357.6 pounds (162.2 kg).
  • Females tends to be larger than males.

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists of bony fish, rays, cephalopods, small sharks, octopuses, squids, and crustaceans.
  • The silvertip shark is an apex predator, meaning it is at the top of the food chain and has very few natural predators of its own.
  • Has been observed swimming among other feeding sharks and darting into the group to swipe food.
  • Pups feed on small fish.
  • Voracious feeders.

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs inshore over or adjacent to continental and insular shelves.
  • Commonly found around offshore islands, coral banks, and reefs.
  • Lives at a depth range of 3-2,625 feet (1-800 m).
  • Juvenile typically remains close to shore and in shallow water to minimize predation risk.
  • Found primarily in the western Indian Ocean.
  • Including the Red Sea and eastern African waters surrounding Madagascar, Seychelles, Aldabra Group, Mauritius, and the Chagos Archipelago.
  • Occupies the western Pacific Ocean from southern Japan, northern Australia, and eastern-central Pacific areas ranging from southern Baja, California, and Mexico, to Colombia including Cocos, Galapagos, and Revillagigedo Islands.

Reproduction & Growth

  • Viviparous; the embryos develop within the mother’s uterus and are nourished by the yolk sac placenta; females give birth to live young.
  • The average gestation period is 12 months.
  • May give birth to up to 11 pups per litter; the average litter has 5-6 pups.
  • When born, pups are typically 1.6-2.6 feet (0.5-0.8 m).
  • Pups live among shallow reefs and move out into deeper water as their size increases.
  • Mates once a year in the summer months.
  • No parental involvement from males beyond fertilization and no parental involvement from females following birth.
  • Breeding and pupping both occur during the summer months in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Males reach sexual maturity around 5.2-5.9 feet (1.6-1.8 m).
  • Females reach sexual maturity around 5.2-6.2 feet (1.6-1.9 m).

Conservation Status

  • Listed as “Vulnerable” on The IUCN Red List.


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