What To Look For:
A large shark with an extremely wide, blunt snout and a caudal keel.
Varies from brownish, olive, grey to black above; pale grey, dirty yellow,
pale grey or white below. Young sharks have tiger-like vertical dark bars,
but as the sharks age the marks fade and they are usually absent in
Most individuals encountered by divers range between 11 and 14 ft (3.4 to
4.3m) in length. Males mature at 7.4 to 9.5 ft (2.26 to 2.9m) and reach a
length of at least 12.1 ft (3.7m). Females mature between 8.2 and 11.5 ft
(2.5 and 3.5m) and reach a length of more than 18 ft (5.5m). One large
female caught in 1957 was 24 ft (7.4m) and weighed 3,110 Ibs (1,414kgs) and
there is an unverified report of a 30 ft (9.1m) tiger shark.
The teeth in both jaws are identical: heavy cockscomb-shaped cutting teeth
resembling diagonally positioned blades. The coarse serration's of the teeth
have fine secondary serration's. The tooth formula usually is: 10/11-1-10/11.
Although the shark occurs off oceanic islands and has been photographed at a
depth of 1,007 ft [305 mi., It is regarded as a coastal species. The shark
tolerates a wide variety of marine habitats and may be found in estuaries,
turbid waters at river mouths, around jetties and wharves, coral atolls and
Circumglobal in tropical and warm temperate seas.
The tiger shark is omnivorous; it may attempt to consume virtually anything
that can fit between its jaws. It feeds on bony fish, sharks, rays, marine
turtles, marine mammals, sea snakes, sea birds, crustaceans, octopus and squid,
jellyfish, carrion and garbage.
Ovoviviparous. Gestation is slightly over a year and the litters are large: 10
to 82 pups. Pups, born at a length of 20 to 30 inches (51 to 76 cm), double in
length within the first year, but their rate of growth slows as they mature.
Most will reach sexual maturity within 7 to 10 years.
The shark is usually solitary, but may be found in small groups of up to 6
individuals. This species is nocturnal; it comes inshore at night to feed and
retreats offshore by day.
When feeding the shark uses its wide blunt snout to advantage. A tiger shark
feeding on a large stingray was filmed pushing the ray's body into the sand and
between rocks apparently to gain leverage in order to bite off a mouthful of
A tiger shark is inquisitive, and it may approach submerged divers and circle
slowly at close range. Do not be lulled into a sense of security by its slow
swimming movement and apparent lack of aggression; this shark may nonchalantly
take a bite while remaining cool and casual. Tiger sharks have also become very
aggressive toward spearfishermen and divers attracting the sharks in underwater
Danger To Humans:
The tiger shark, like its jungle namesake, is dangerous; its toll of victims
throughout the world is second only to that of the great white shark. It is
considered the most dangerous tropical shark, and has been blamed for the
majority of attacks in Australia. The shark's large size, inquisitiveness and
often aggressive nature, combined with large cutting teeth and indiscriminate
feeding habits, dictates that a tiger shark should always be regarded as