The diet of the oceanic whitetip shark primarily consists of bony fishes such as tuna and mackerel, but also includes stingrays, sea turtles, sea birds, squid, crustaceans, mammalian carrion (dead whales and dolphins), and occasionally even rubbish that is disposed in the sea (3). The species is usually solitary, but will occasionally congregate in groups during ‘feeding frenzies’ where food is plentiful (4), such as around whale carcasses (7). However, if other shark species are encountered competing for the same food source, the oceanic whitetip shark usually dominates over them, and may become aggressive (3) (4). This shark is often accompanied by remoras, dolphin fishes and pilot fishes, and reportedly demonstrates an unusual association with the shortfin pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) in Hawaiian waters (2) (3). Although the exact reason for this shark swimming along with pods of pilot whales is unknown, it is suspected that oceanic whitetip sharks are following them to sources of squid, which the pilot whales are extremely efficient at locating (3).
This species mates during the early summer in the north-western Atlantic and the south-western Indian Ocean, and females give birth to 1 to 15 live young approximately a year later (3) (6). Reproduction is viviparous, with live young being born after being nourished by a placental yolk-sac that is attached to the uterine wall by umbilical cords (3). Sexual maturity is attained at an age of six to seven years for both sexes (3).