The blacktip shark reaches just over 8 feet in length; the alltackle world record is a 270-pound, 9-ounce fish taken off Kenya in 1995.
It is dark bluish-gray on the back and whitish below, with a distinctive silver-white stripe on each flank; young fish are generally paler. As the name implies, it is black-tipped on the insides of the pectoral fins, as well as on the dorsal, the anal, and the lower lobe of the caudal fins in young fish. This shading may be faint, especially on the first dorsal fin, and it fades with growth.
The blacktip shark has a long, almost V-shaped snout and serrated, nearly symmetrical teeth. It often forms large surface schools and is an active hunter in midwater, responsible for very few attacks on humans but dangerous when provoked.
A wide-ranging species, the blacktip extends along the western Atlantic from Massachusetts to Brazil, and in the east from Senegal to Zaire, Madeira, the Canaries, and the Mediterranean. In the eastern Pacific, it occurs from southern Baja California to Peru and the Galápagos Islands.