Whitetip Reef Shark

Commonly found around reefs and caves, whitetip reef sharks (Triaenodon obesus) are extremely docile creatures. These requiem sharks are nocturnal and can be found resting in caves during the day and hunting at night.

Geographic Area

Whitetip reef sharks can be found in the Indo-Pacific waters of East Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Vietnam, Taiwan, Riu Kiu Islands, Philippines, Australia. They are also found in the Malay Archipelago (a group of islands that includes Brunei, East Malaysia, East Timor, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines), as well as the Hawaiian and Pitcairn islands. In the eastern Pacific ocean, whitetip reef sharks reside in the Cocos and Galapagos islands, and from Panama to Costa Rica.


Whitetips spend their lives in or around the shallow waters of coral reefs, living in depths from 8 to 40 meters (26 to 131 feet). During the day, they spend their time in caves or deep crevices of reefs and have even be found to stack on top of each other while resting. Some species of sharks need to constantly be moving in order to breathe, but whitetips are able to remain in one spot for several hours at a time. Whitetips often live by the same reef or general geographic area for several years or even their entire life. Other shark species including the blacktip reef shark and grey reef shark also live amongst the whitetips where they all co-exist and live almost communally.


The most apparent feature of this species is the whitetips located on their dorsal (top) fin and caudal (tail) fin. Adult whitetips can reach lengths of just over 2 meters (about 7 feet) but commonly range from 1.5 to 1.8 meters (5 to 6 feet) in length, and average about 20 kilograms (44 pounds). They have a small and slender greyish-brown body and a white ventral (bottom) side along with dark spots or freckles on either side. Whitetips have a flattened head and a rounded snout. Their mouth and nostrils are ventrally located, and each jaw has 2 functional rows of about 20 to 25 teeth each. Their s