Scientific Name: Galeocerdo cuvier
Common Name: Tiger Shark, and Sea Tiger
Distribution and Habitat: Found in both coastal and oceanic waters however most prevalent close to shore in tropical and subtropical waters. The Tiger shark is a very nomadic shark often traveling along with warmest water currents or near the equator. Tiger sharks favor deep waters lining reef drop offs, however it does travel into shallow water, inlets, and channels to pursue prey. The Tiger shark populates the Gulf of Mexico, Florida and Atlantic beaches, Mexican Waters, South American coasts, throughout the Caribbean, The Bahamas, African coasts, China, Hong Kong, India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Indonesia. The Tiger sharks range perimeters are most notably effected by its tendency towards warm waters. Although it may be found in extreme Northern and Southern waters, the Tiger shark will generally move on quickly into more appropriate seas. Tiger sharks can adjust to varying ranges of water depth having been recorded as deep as 900 meters (3000 ft) and as shallow as 2 meters and sometimes simply a few feet while actively attacking prey. During its coastal stay Tiger sharks are most commonly seen between 20 to 50 feet of depth.
Anatomy and Appearance: Tiger Sharks are one of the most uniquely visual species of commonly seen sharks. A Tiger shark can range in color from blues, greens, whites, and yellows. Tiger sharks have a very defined counter shading (darker color such as blue, green, and grey on dorsal section to then transition to whites or yellows on the ventral side.) As their names suggest Tiger sharks also play host to dark spots and stripes on their dorsal or darker side. These stripes are most visible in young sharks and usually fade as the shark matures. However some adult specimens carry their beautiful markings throughout their lives. The Tiger shark's head and snout is squared instead of pointed or cylindrical like many shark species. These adaptation is thought to allow the shark a higher level of prey detection through a larger number of electro-receptors found in the small pits of its nose (known scientifically as the ampullae of Lorenzini). This head shape is also thought to allow the shark faster movements and quick turns while hunting.
Tiger sharks are also some of the largest shark species swimming in modern day waters. The Tiger shark commonly attains a length of 3–4.2 m (9.8–13.8 ft) and weighs around 385–635 kg (849–1,400 lb). Sometimes, an exceptionally large male tiger shark can grow up to 4.5 m (15 ft). Females are larger, and exceptionally big ones can reportedly measure over 5 m (16 ft). According to Guinness World Records, one female specimen caught off Australia reportedly measured 5.5 m (18 ft) long and weighed an exceptional 1,524 kg (3,360 lb), although her weight is thought to have been bolstered by her pregnant state at the time. Even larger specimens have been reported but are unconfirmed.
Diet, Hunting and Feeding Behavior: The Tiger shark has a reputation for eating almost anything be it normal prey or even trash. Young Tiger sharks primarily feed on small fish, jellyfish, cephalopods, and mollusks. Around sexual maturity Tigers will begin attempting larger prey including: larger fish, crustaceans, sea birds, sea snakes, marine mammals such as bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, spotted dolphins, dugongs, seals, and sea lions. They are also known to regularly attack and consume many sea turtle species such as: Leatherback, Loggerhead, and Green Sea Turtles. Tiger sharks have also been known to eat other sharks including Sandtiger sharks, Sandbar sharks, and other smaller Tiger sharks. Due to high risk of predatory attacks, dolphins often avoid regions inhabited by tiger sharks.
Tiger sharks may also attack injured or ailing whales and prey upon them. A group was documented attacking and killing an ailing humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae
) in 2006. Tiger sharks are also scavengers of dead whales. In one such documented incident, they were observed scavenging on a whale carcass alongside Great White Sharks.
Note: This image is a stock image taken from online sources, this is not Namyr copyrighted work.