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The Whitetip Shark

Rene-Primevere Lesson was the first naturalist ever to describe the oceanic whitetip shark in every detail. He took part in 1822-1825 round-the-world expedition, during which he kept an observations diary. The oceanic whitetip shark was captured for the first time near Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia. Unfortunately, these explorations have been forgotten long ago; the following reference about the oceanic whitetip shark is dated to 1861 and belongs to Cuban zoologist Felipe Poi.

Oceanic whitetip shark is a truly oceanic fish. It hardly ever lives in the coastal area. The shark can be most often observed in the deep sea, close to the surface, with its dorsal fin peeking out of the water.

The most amazing about oceanic whitetip sharks is that they feel and perceive all the smells above the surface. This is the very ability, which lets them get to the intended prey faster than any other marine creatures.

These sharks also have their own external peculiarities, owing to which they are easy to distinguish from any other shark species. The oceanic whitetip predator has quite large pectoral and dorsal fins, which look pretty similar to birds wings. These fins are long, with their edges slightly rounded.

The oceanic whitetip shark has an elongated and streamlined body, and relatively small flat-faced head. Its eyes are not too big, with movable lids, which save the shark from preys protection during the hunting. The jaws are sickle-shaped and are always kept half-opened during the movement. There are five gill slits on each side of the head.

The largest fins are dorsal, pectoral and caudal ones. The rest have fairly small size and look much alike. Concerning coloring features, there also are small yellow spots covering each fin. The coloration of the shark itself varies from gray-brown to steel-blue: it depends on the age of the individual.

The teeth on the upper and lower rows are complementing each other by means of their slightly different shape. The teeth on the upper row are rather wide; they have triangular form and sharp grooves on the edges. The ones on the lower row are narrower and outwardly resemble the fangs.

The oceanic whitetip sharks are one of the most widespread marine predators throughout the World Ocean. One can most commonly meet them in subtropical waters. The surprising thing is that they avoid swimming in coastal areas.

Just a few years ago this species was considered safe for humans as the predators were mostly hunting in the deep sea. But in 2010 there were registered several cases when the oceanic whitetip sharks attacked the men in the coastal area of Egypt. It turned out that one should keep out of these marine predators even being in safe distance from the shore.

The oceanic whitetip shark is one of the largest individuals among the whole family. Its length may attain up to four meters with its weight about 60 kilograms. There is even an instance when the oceanic whitetip sharks weight totaled one hundred and seventy kilograms! It is necessary to point out as well the fact that females are usually far bigger than males.

The oceanic whitetip sharks produce their pups through ovoviviparity; up to seven half-meter long ones per turn.

The oceanic whitetip shark doesnt have a fish maw and in order not to sink it should always be in motion. The shark usually moves very slowly and idly since fast movement requires larger energy expenditure. But one shouldnt think that the sharks slowness signifies its harmless. In case of need the marine predator becomes fast and ready to clutch its prey in a blink of an eye.

In fact, the oceanic whitetip shark is a very dangerous predator, posing a threat even for its congeners. If to compare it to the silk shark or the ordinary blue shark, it will definitely dominate.

This predator is a quite inquisitive creature, thats why it will never ignore any prey, especially a diver passing by.

The oceanic whitetip sharks mainly feed on squids and tunas. It was also noticed that they like to chase ships and pick all the foot scraps left behind. Even in case if they come across the crustaceans, or turtles, or any dead animal in the water, they will stop and make a lunch break. When the shark is captured and cut, one can notice lots of inedible garbage and other things in its stomach.

It should also be noted that oceanic whitetip sharks often go hunting with other species of sharks. For example, the famous author of Jaws described similar situation in his book. The sharks mostly go hunting in large groups only if theres a big source of food nearby: a dead whale or school of tunas would be brilliant. During such meals they become extremely aggressive and even deterrent. This is due to their habit to eat their fill. The large prey comes up not so often and thats why the sharks try to snatch as big bites as possible. Such habit has been developing for millions of years and saved the sharks lives from starvation for many times.

It was also noticed that after school of shark to attack a tuna fish stock, a large number of dead fish remains at the surface.

The amazing quality of the oceanic whitetip shark is its vitality. For instance, such a predator keeps circling around the ship looking for some prey even after being caught and gutted by fishermen and then thrown overboard.

Oceanic whitetip sharks also make a great harm to tuna fish industry. The truth is that the shark can eat a lot of tunas very quickly and people have nothing to do with it. The shark itself often gets caught in a tuna net as well. These sharks are not of interest for the humans at all. The only thing people can do with them is to consume their meat.

If there was a shipwreck in the high seas, then all those who have survived are exposed to sharks. One shouldnt forget the fact that these creatures have exceptional smell sense, thanks to which they can trace such crashes.

It wouldnt be useless to note that the oceanic whitetip shark is one of the most fearless creatures on the entire planet. It can hunt a fish of much bigger size than its own, thus disregarding the risk of being ate itself. The oceanic whitetip shark prefers not to waste its energy on cruising around a human before attacking it: this predator acts immediately.

Here is one of the examples of its fearless: in 2010 in Egypt an oceanic whitetip shark has attacked a tourist bathing in the sea. The bather has managed to escape and run ashore, but the shark did follow her! It literally came out to the shore and tried to snap its prey one more time. The people on the beach were shocked to witness such an event and recorded it right away. Sure thing, nobody was expecting something like that. Can it be possible that the shark was so hungry that it outbraved leaving its native environment?

The prominent explorer and naturalist Jacques-Yves Cousteau called an oceanic whitetip shark the most dangerous and frightful dweller of the World Ocean. It has provoked the highest number of human deaths of all. Neither both white shark or bull shark, nor tiger shark, can excel it. Its also necessary to mention that every single human life taken by an oceanic whitetip shark is recorded to a special registration card. One may wonder how many lives there have been lost to the sharks after another shipwreck, or after all the shipwrecks in total. In fact, theres more than hundreds, and even thousands of lives.

For example, many of us know this terrible incident about boat with a thousand people on it, which sunk during World War II. There were one hundred and ninety-two dead people. But the experts believe that the majority of them didnt drown, but was killed by the oceanic whitetip predators.

The commercial importance of the oceanic whitetip sharks doesnt make a difference for people. Their meat is considered to be nice to taste, but its not as gourmet as other sorts of meat. The liver of the oceanic whitetip shark doesnt contain any vitamins since they mostly feed on garbage and carrion. Its leather is used in small wares industry, but once again, its not considered too precious or demandable. The only exception is its fins. This is the very ingredient the famed English soup is distinguished by. Its corpse is usually subsequently mealed.

It is not infrequent when captured sharks with their fins cut off are let back into the water. If so, the shark either gets finally hunted down by another predator or it simply drowns.

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