Unsupported Browser Detected

Internet Explorer lacks support for the features of this website. For the best experience, please use a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.

Atlantic Blacktip Sharks: A Management Success Story

May 31, 2023

Blacktip shark stocks are a great example of the successes of 30 years of Atlantic Highly Migratory Fisheries Management.

Atlantic blacktip sharks
NOAA Shark Badge 30 Years

Once overfished, the Atlantic blacktip shark population is now considered fully recovered—thanks in part to robust management measures implemented by NOAA Fisheries.

Blacktip sharks now account for approximately 60 percent of commercial and recreational catch of large coastal shark species—but that wasn’t always the case. In 1998, NOAA Fisheries determined blacktip sharks to be overfished and experiencing overfishing. To address this problem, we implemented management measures for commercial fisheries, including a reduced commercial quota for large coastal sharks and recreational size and bag limits. This allowed Atlantic blacktip shark populations to successfully recover. In 2006, the blacktip shark population was split into Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic stocks for assessments; the Gulf of Mexico stock was determined to be no longer overfished. In 2018, the Gulf of Mexico stock had recovered enough to support four times the regional harvest. As of the final assessment in 2022, neither the Gulf of Mexico nor Atlantic blacktip shark stocks are overfished and overfishing is not occuring. 

5 Fast Facts: Blacktip Sharks

1. Range

Blacktip sharks are commonly found in coastal waters from Virginia to Texas, but have been found as far north as Massachusetts. Each winter, blacktip sharks migrate south to Florida waters and then migrate back up the Atlantic coast in the spring by the thousands.

2. Life History 

Female Atlantic blacktip sharks give birth to litters ranging from one to seven pups, with four pups being the average. By shark standards, blacktip sharks are fast growing and quick to mature, reaching reproductive size within 5 to 7 years. Atlantic blacktip sharks can live up to 17 years.

3. Behavior

Like their cousin, the spinner shark, Atlantic blacktip sharks are known for their acrobatic leaps into the air. They can spin up to three times before plunging back in the water! 

4. Appearance

Spinner and blacktip sharks are difficult to tell apart as they have similar body shapes and black tips on most of their fins. The difference is the black tip on the spinner’s anal fin. Ironically, this is the only black tip that the blacktip shark doesn’t have!

5. Diet

Blacktip sharks typically feed on small schooling fish like herring, anchovies, sardines, and menhaden. Blacktip sharks are themselves food for larger sharks such as great hammerhead, tiger, and bull sharks.


Last updated by Office of Sustainable Fisheries on June 02, 2023