Galeocerdo cuvier

Introduction to Tiger Shark

Sometimes referred to as the Sea Tiger, this is one shark that most people have an idea of what it looks like. It is a predator, but more on a micro level than a macro level like some other species of sharks. The name though tends to make them seem more aggressive due to perceptions and parallels to the tiger than what they actually do.

Tiger Shark Description

It is really hard to mistake the Tiger Shark for any other species due to the black stripes on it that are similar to those of a tiger. These stripes help the shark to easily blend into their surroundings so that they can be safe and also have the facility to hunt preys. They can be more than 16 feet long when they are fully mature. Those stripes though tend to fade as they get older and larger. They can also weigh up to 1,400 pounds.

Class Chondrichthyes
Subclass Elasmobranchii
Order Carcharhiniformes
Family Carcharhinidae
Genus Galeocerdo
Conservation status Near Threatened

The color of the Tiger Shark can be blue or light green. They have yellow or a cream color on their belly. This allows them to blend in well to be protected from enemies above the water but also to blend in well to prevent prey from knowing of their presence from below. The head is shaped like a wedge and they are able to turn their head very quickly to see what is going on beside them.

Their body is designed to allow them to use electro receptors to determine movement of prey as they hunt for them. They also use the lateral line to help them be able to pick up on vibrations in the water.

The fins of the Tiger Shark are very long and that allows them to easily move through the water. They also have a tail that is very long in regards to the upper portion of it. This allows them to move very fast through the water with great speed when they need to. They have a back that is very high and that combined with the dorsal fin allow them to spin very quickly and to change direction.

Tiger Shark information

Tiger Shark – Galeocerdo cuvier / Photo taken by Albert Kok

They also have very sharp teeth that enable them to get through the flesh and bones of their food sources. They have rows of teeth that will continually be replaced throughout their life to ensure that they are as powerful and effective as they need to be for the shark to survive.

Tiger Shark Distribution

You will find the Tiger Shark living in the temperate and tropical waters. The most common place for them to be found is around the central part of the Pacific Islands. Sadly, this species is considered Near Threatened due to the fishing for their fins by humans. They tend to enjoy the shallow locations including reefs, harbors, and canals.

They are nomadic so they tend to have a very wide distribution. However, they do enjoy the warmer waters and tend to stay closer to the equator when the colder months arrive. They have been known to go South to New Zealand and North into Japan.

tiger-shark-300Tiger Shark Behavior

The Tiger Shark is one of the species that is nocturnal. During the day they are mostly inactive but they will be aggressively looking for food at night. They are solitary and they can be a threat to other sharks as well as to humans that get too close to them. They can be very aggressive and they are considered to be one of the most dangerous sharks that a human can come into contact with.

The Great White Shark, Tiger Shark and Bull shark are the most dangerous species for the humans. These sharks have documented the highest number of attacks on tourists in the world.

Tiger Shark Feeding

There are plenty of types of food that the Tiger Shark consumes. They include birds, sea turtles, sea snakes, crustaceans, seals, squid, and small sharks of other species. They tend to be opportunistic and they will eat all they can when they can. They are able to find food in the dark by picking up the vibrations of living things moving in the water around them. They also have enhanced vision to rely on due to the layer of reflective tissue behind the retina.

Tiger Shark Reproduction

For the Tiger Shark, maturity depends on size and not on age. Males are able to mate with a size of 7 ½ feet to 9 ½ feet. The females are ready to mate at a size of 8 feet to 11 feet. The females will only mate once every 3 years which does make it hard to increase populations. Mating rituals include the males biting on the thick skin of the female. Mating times depend on the location with it being from March until May in the North and from November until January in the South. Gestation is to 16 months before the young are born.  The average lifespan in the wild of a Tiger Shark is 12 years.


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