The tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier), native to the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean, is the only living member of the genus Galeocerdo. It is also the largest member of the Carcharhinidae family of sharks, which include species like the blue shark and bull shark. Though numerous encounters with humans have given these sharks a notorious reputation, facts related to their predatory behavior, habitat, diet, etc., are quite interesting in themselves.
Facts About Tiger Shark Species
Do tiger sharks really deserve the tag of being one of the most dangerous shark species in the world? We tried to explore and found out some amazing things about these animals. Given below is a compilation of basic facts about the species, which highlights their geographical range, habitat, appearance, predatory behavior, diet, etc.
Geographical Area and Habitat
Tiger sharks are predominantly found in tropical and sub-tropical oceans, however, sightings in temperate oceans are not so rare. Though their population is concentrated around the central Pacific Islands, individuals are also seen as far as off-coast Japan in north and off-coast Australia in south at times. They are nomadic in nature, however, warm currents do play a crucial role in their movement in the oceans. In winter, they are most often seen in warm equatorial waters. More importantly, their movement is not just restricted to deep parts of the oceans. They also have the tendency to venture into shallow water whilst pursuing their prey―a behavior which is not usually seen in fish of this size.
Size and Appearance
As we mentioned earlier, tiger sharks are the largest members of the Carcharhinidae family. Adult sharks can attain an average length of 10 to 14 ft., and weigh about 850 to 1,400 lb. Though rare, individuals measuring 15 ft., or weighing in excess of 1500 lb., have also been recorded in different parts. Tigers sharks are typically characterized by blue to light green skin with a white or light yellow underbelly. It has dark stripes, resembling a pattern similar to tiger stripes, on its body and dorsal fins close to its tail. These stripes, from which they derive their name, fade and disappear as they grow.
Hunting and Diet
Tiger sharks are predatory species with excellent hunting skills. Their powerful sense of smell helps them pick traces of blood when pursuing the prey. More importantly, they also boasts of excellent eyesight which helps them locate the prey even in the darkest corners of the ocean. As for their diet, it mainly consists of a wide range of fish, turtles, seals, birds, etc. These sharks are not at all choosy about their food. They feed on anything that they come across. At times, man-made waste is found in their stomach, as they feed on the garbage dumped in the oceans. Owing to this, they are often referred to as 'the wastebaskets of the sea'.
Of the widely known facts about this species, the most popular one is perhaps its aggressive behavior towards humans. In terms of human fatalities, tiger shark is considered one of the most aggressive species in the world; second only to the great white shark. Its encounter with humans can be attributed to its tendency to venture into the shallow waters while hunting.