The Blacktip Sharks Collection

Browse & download a collection of underwater footage featuring Blacktip Sharks shot in the warm Indian Ocean on the East Coast of South Africa.


The Blacktip Sharks Collection


About the Species

The oceanic blacktip shark (separate from the blacktip reef shark) is a coastal shark that occupies tropical and subtropical seas. They usually reside within the first 30 metres of the water column. They are commonly spotted in estuaries, mangroves, river mouths, and bays, as well as coral reef drop-offs and within continental shelves. They feed on a wide assortment of bony fish, keeping many populations in check, and playing a crucial role in marine ecosystem maintenance.


Physical Traits
  • Blacktip sharks are normally two metres in length and are distinguished by their slender, streamlined bodies, pointy snouts, and smaller eyes.
  • They acquired their name from their peculiar black colouration at the end of all of their fins (excluding their anal fin, which is white). The colouration of the rest of their body customarily transitions from a grey-brown colour on top of their body to white colour on their     lower belly.
  • They accommodate 15 rows of teeth, backed by a constant supply of replacements.
Reproduction and Lifespan
  • Oceanic blacktips are viviparous (bear live birth). Although they have longer gestation periods (11-12 months), they give birth to live young that are born fully nourished, developed, and ready to take on the world, with little to no time or resources spent by the mother     nurturing young after they are born.
  • Birthing grounds are typically characterised by warmer, shallower waters to ensure safety.
  • Males reach maturity earlier than females (4-5 years compared to 6-7 years), and females give birth every other year to litters ranging from one to ten pups.
  • Blacktips have a relatively shorter lifespan, with a max of around 12 years.



  • Blacktip sharks are an energetic and more social species. They display schooling behaviour and migrate according to sexual segregation. This means that males and females travel separately until breeding and mating season.  
  • Although these sharks are lively and sometimes aggressive hunters, they are generally not seen as threatening to humans or divers. However, if they display particular behaviour, such as arching their backs, lowering their pectoral fins, and partaking in vigorous     swimming, they are putting on a threat display.

Predator and Prey

  • Oceanic blacktips are not picky eaters. They feed on a broad range of fish (such as sardine, triggerfish, herring, snook, grunts, mullet, porcupine fish, anchovies, and groupers), as fish comprise 90% of their diets.  
  • The other 10% comprises other sharks (such as smoothhound, sharpnose, and juvenile dusky sharks) and many other crustacean, squid, stingray, and skate species.
  • Tiger sharks and great hammerhead sharks are periodic predators of Oceanic blacktips. However, smaller juveniles are more at risk of predation than larger adults.


Threats and Climate Change

  • Blacktips are a common catch for recreational and commercial fishing, especially due to their highly marketable and desired meat and fins (for culinary delicacies such as shark fin soup and Australian ‘flake’). Their hide is also in high demand for leather production, and the fatty oils in their livers are often used for supplement production.
  • Because they give birth on inshore, warm-temperate coasts, they are more exposed to human impacts such as habitat destruction, pollution, harassment, and fishing pressure.

Conservation Status

  • According to the IUCN red list of species, blacktips are “Near Threatened”, meaning they are vulnerable to being threatened in the future.
  • Blacktips are fished for sport and are sold in local markets. They receive fishery management in Australia and the USA because it is one of the most sought-after commercial shark species in both countries.
  • International management of this individual shark species has yet to be achieved.

Current Research

  • Recent research suggests that the South African population of blacktip sharks partake in multiple paternity. This is where a female can uptake and store sperm from multiple males, generating a single litter with multiple fathers.
  • In an attempt to deter sharks from chasing fishing boats and accidentally getting caught in nets, magnets can be attached to the nets. The magnets are thought to discourage the sharks by provoking their electroreceptors.

Charisma Factor

  • One of the most mesmerising displays put on by blacktips is their performances out of the water. Because they feed on many     schooling, bony fishes, they feed by charging at schools of fish, thrusting themselves out of the water, rotating their body, and executing sizable splashes on the way down.
  • Their social and hyperactive nature drives frequent ‘feeding frenzies’. A feeding frenzy might develop when there is an overwhelming abundance of prey. The blacktips are easily intoxicated and energetically attack, jump, spin, and predate with intensity, casting a chaotic underwater scene.

Myths and Legends

  • Humanity's relationships with and beliefs about sharks have a contrasting record. While many of us presently fear the rare event of a shark attack, the presence of a shark in pre-cinematic times brought about an entirely different connotation.
  • In the Solomon islands, if one were to cross paths with a shark, it was a deeply emblematic event. When a loved one passed away, it was thought they would leave their bodies and take the form of a shark. So, when a shark made an appearance, it was believed to be a visit from a dear departed friend or family member, and islanders routinely fed and talked to the sharks to thank them for their visit.
  • The Samoan islands, as well as many of the south pacific islands, also viewed the presence of sharks (reef sharks in particular) as a sign of fertility.

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