Skip to main content

Blacktip Shark

Carcharhinus limbatus

Distinguishing Characteristics

Illustration of a blacktip shark showing important characteristics
  • Back is dark bluish-gray (juveniles more pale) fading to a whitish belly
  • Anal fin lacks black tip (in adults); dorsal fins, pectoral fins, anal fin and caudal fin lower lobe are black-tipped in juveniles (fades with growth)
  • First dorsal fin starts above pectoral fin inner margin
  • Long snout that appears nearly V-shaped from below
  • No interdorsal ridge


Similar Species

Spinner shark, C. brevipinna (anal fin has a black tip and first dorsal fin starts behind the pectoral fin)


Maximum length about 6.5 feet. Matures at approximately 5-8 years of age (about 5 feet) and is estimated to live up to 10 years.


Common in Florida's coastal waters, bays, and estuaries.

Often come inshore in large schools, particularly in association with Spanish mackerel. 


Feeds primarily on fishes but also eat small sharks, some rays and skates, squid, crabs, octopus, and lobster.


Mating occurs during the summer and after approximately 11 months of gestation, females give birth to live young in shallow coastal areas. Broods contain 2-9 pups. Size at birth 22-28 inches. Juveniles utilize shallow areas near barrier islands, salt marshes, and estuarine systems.

Additional Information

An active, fast-swimming shark often seen at the surface. Often forms large schools during annual migration times.  Migrates southward and into deeper coastal waters during winter months. May leap out of the water and, like the related spinner shark, spin around several times before dropping back into the sea.

The blacktip is one of the most commonly collected sharks in the commercial fishery and considered a valuable commercial species with marketable flesh, hide, fins, and liver. It is also recreationally targeted and caught on light tackle as it often leaps out of the water when hooked. Has been implicated in attacks on bathers.

State Record: 152 lbs. 

Fishing Tips and Facts: Blacktip sharks are sometimes caught by sportfishers off the beach or offshore. They provide a good fight, often leaping out of the water.

Recreational Regulations


Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles