Tiger sharks have a blunt snout, large eyes, a bluish-green, gray or black back and a light underside. Around their mouth, they have long labial furrows. Tiger sharks are described in many field guides as "huge" - they grow to 10-14 feet long on average, but may grow to over 18 feet and 2,000 pounds.
Habitat and Distribution:
Tiger sharks have a wide distribution throughout temperate and tropical oceans around the world. In the U.S., they may be found in the Atlantic from Massachusetts to the Caribbean and in the Pacific, off southern California to South America.
Tiger sharks are found from shallow waters to areas over 400 feet deep. They may also frequent estuaries, harbors, lagoons, in coral atolls and off oceanic islands. They are the species most often identified in shark attacks off Hawaii.
The tiger shark's maximum reported age (according to FishBase.org) is 50 years.
Since they are often close to shore, tiger sharks are often implicated in shark attacks. In fact, they are the shark species with the second-highest reported numbers of shark attacks, according to the International Shark Attack File. From 1580-2010, there were 63 tiger shark attacks, although about one-third (27) were fatal.
Despite this, scuba diving with tiger sharks is popular in some areas, such as the Bahamas, and this species is sometimes curious around divers, as shown in the image here.
References and Further Information:
- Carpenter, K. 2010. Galeocerdo cuvier (Péron & Lesueur, 1822). In: Nicolas Bailly (2011). FishBase. Accessed January 30, 2012.
- Compagno, L., Dando, M. and S. Fowler. 2005. Sharks of the World. Princeton University Press.
- Florida Museum of Natural History. 2011. International Shark Attack File. Accessed January 30, 2012.
- Knickle, C. Tiger Shark. Icthyology at Florida Museum of Natural History. Accessed January 30, 2012.
- NOAA Fisheries. Tiger Shark Fact Sheet. Accessed January 30, 2012.
- Martins, C. and C. Knickle. White Shark (Online). Florida Museum of Natural History Icthyology Department. Accessed September 6, 2009.
- Simpfendorfer, C. 2009. Galeocerdo cuvier. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. , Accessed January 30, 2012.