Table of Contents
Tiger Shark: All You Need To Know
A Tiger shark is a pelagic predator that belongs to the kingdom of Animalia, phylum Chordata, and class Chondrichthyes. Its genus is Galeocerdo, and its species is G. cuvier. Its length is up to 5 m, and it weighs about 860 kg. It lives in tropical and temperate oceans, with a lifespan up to 12 years.
What is Tiger Shark?
The tiger shark is a big, predatory fish that belongs to the genus Galeocerdo. Tiger sharks are renowned for their unique stripes and dots on their sides, which mimic tiger stripes. They may be found in many temperate and tropical waters. In terms of average size, they are among the biggest extant shark species, trailing just the whale shark, basking shark, and great white shark.
Tiger sharks may reach a maximum length of 17 feet (5 metres) and a weight of over 1,900 pounds (860 kg). They have two triangular dorsal fins and huge pectoral fins and are strong but sleek. It possesses an anal fin and five gill slits, as do all other members of the Carcharhiniformes order, as well as a nictitating membrane above its eyes.
Females are 3 ft (1 m) or more bigger than males, making the species dimorphic. Their skin is blue-grey to light green in hue, with deeper charcoal stripes on their sides and white underbelly, similar to that of a Great White Shark. Tiger sharks’ stripes are generally more pronounced on juveniles than on adults.
Tiger Shark Distribution and Range
Tiger sharks are pelagic creatures, which means they move freely in the water column rather than dwelling on the ocean floor. They can be found in most of the world’s tropical and temperate waters, but they favour the warmer end of the temperature range. Individuals are frequently migratory, following warmer-water currents around the sea in the summer and staying near the equator in the winter.
They live in deep water, usually approximately 420 feet (140 metres) deep but sometimes considerably deeper. They are also occasionally spotted in shallow coastal waters, and are widespread in places like Hawaii, the Caribbean, and Florida.
Tiger Shark Predators and Prey
They are mostly alone and hunt at night, approaching reefs in quest of a variety of food. They may pursue schools of fish into shallow inshore waters or attack a turtle they see out at sea. Tiger sharks have been reported to consume seals, birds, squid, sea snakes, and even dolphins in addition to crustaceans.
Other sharks, usually smaller species or juveniles of bigger species, are also eaten by them. Tiger sharks have few natural predators, but they are occasionally captured by orcas, which take use of their size advantage and intricate social structure to outrun the shark. They are also subjected to illicit fishing methods like fining.
The tiger shark is categorised as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, owing to this and the degradation of natural marine habitats throughout the world due to pollution and destructive fishing practises.
Tiger Shark Reproduction
Male tiger sharks attain sexual maturity at around 9.5 feet (3 metres), whereas females, who grow larger than males in general, achieve sexual maturity at around 11.5 feet (3 metres) (3.5 m). Tiger shark mating season occurs each spring, between March and May in the Northern Hemisphere and November and December in the Southern Hemisphere, despite the fact that individual females only spawn once every three years.
Internal fertilisation is used in the breeding process. Males may grip the female with their teeth when mating, injuring her in the process. The female may hold up to 100 fertilised embryos after copulation. Tiger shark embryos hatch and grow inside, and the mother carries them for up to sixteen months, making them unique among the Carcharinidae family.
She will give birth to around 35 healthy, well-developed babies measuring up to 30 in (76 cm) in length at this time. Although the exact lifetime of tiger sharks is unknown, they are known to live for at least 12 years.
Are Tiger Shark Dangerous?
Only one other shark species, the Great White Shark, has killed as many people as tiger sharks. Humans, on the other hand, are not a natural prey item for tiger sharks. Tiger shark attacks, like most fatal shark attacks, are usually the consequence of the shark becoming interested in the person and trying a ‘test bite’ to see what it is.
The majority of sharks lose interest and swim away, but the damage that follows can be deadly. Tiger sharks hurt or kill people more than other shark species because they are generalist hunters that will try to devour nearly everything.
However, given the number of possible human-shark contacts that occur each year across the world, only a small percentage of them culminate in an attack, and even fewer are deadly.
Fun Facts About Tiger Shark
Tiger sharks are one of the most infamous shark species in the world because of their enhanced predatory instincts and huge size. It did not become such a powerful predatory force throughout the world’s seas without a set of unique and beneficial adaptations.
Tiger Shark has Electric Sense
Tiger sharks, like many other shark species, have a few characteristics that allow them to be such powerful predators. For starters, they can sense tiny electric fields produced by their possible prey. They achieve this by employing ampullae of Lorenzini, which are electroreceptors that sit in pits on the shark’s snout.
Sharks have an extra sensory organ known as a lateral line in addition to the Lorenzini ampullae. This runs along their sides for the majority of their body’s length. It is filled with endolymph, the same fluid that is present in the inner ear of humans and is necessary for us to maintain our equilibrium. This lateral line is linked with the neurological system of sharks, allowing them to detect minute vibrations in the water and therefore find food.
Tiger Shark: a True Generalist
The tiger shark is recognised for having one of the most diverse palates of any shark. In fact, they are so eager to taste everything that they wind up eating a range of inedible, mostly man-made items.
Unfortunately, as the waters become increasingly contaminated by manmade garbage, this is not a good feature for the species to have. This eating behaviour of the species may also explain why it is seen as a hazardous species by many, as it will frequently exhibit interest in anything that has the potential to be food.
Tiger Shark: a Special Weapon
Tiger sharks have one-of-a-kind teeth. Each tooth is serrated, with sideways pointing points on the left side of the mouth and the right side of the mouth, respectively. The tiger shark’s teeth are shorter than those of other sharks of comparable size, such as the great white shark. This is likely due to the tiger shark’s diet.
They are, nevertheless, razor-sharp, and the serrations enable them to bite through their prey faster than would otherwise be possible. Some of the tough prey items the tiger shark will attack, such as marine turtles with their huge shells, may require this.
Tiger shark teeth are frequently injured or fractured as a result of prey items. This does not pose an issue for the shark known as the ‘man-eater,’ as fresh rows of teeth are continually replaced during the life of the greet predator.
Tiger Shark Citations
- Growth and maximum size of tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) in Hawaii. PLoS One . 2014 Jan 8;9(1):e84799.
- Age and growth of the tiger shark Galeocerdo cuvier off the east coast of Australia. J Fish Biol . 2015 Aug;87(2):422-48.
- Tiger sharks can connect equatorial habitats and fisheries across the Atlantic Ocean basin. PLoS One . 2017 Sep 19;12(9):e0184763.