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Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier)

Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier)

All images and text on this page are copyright protected: © 2010 Kelvin Aitken.
All rights reserved. Students may use this information for personal research only. Not for commercial use.

Order: Carcharhiniformes
Family: Carcharhinidae
Genus: Galeocerdo
Species: cuvier
Taxonomic name: Galeocerdo cuvier

From knee-deep shallow sandy lagoons to deep ocean walls, the Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) is the king of tropical sharks. A blunt, almost square snout, large black eyes rimmed with white and broad dark bands on the back and flanks easily distinguish this shark from any other. The teeth are a distinctive cockscomb shape, ideal for a wide variety of prey.

Born at 50 cm long, distinctly striped juveniles can grow to 6 m. Sharks over 3.5 m become very deep bodied and heavy. At maturity the broad dark bands may fade almost completely to an overall mid- to dark grey; on the flanks the fading colour merges with the white belly. Females give birth to litters of 10–80 pups 12 month after conception. The lifespan of Tiger Sharks is about 12–13 years.

Unlike many other sharks, the Tiger Shark has an indiscriminate appetite and in their stomach have been found objects as bizarre and diverse as plastic toys and human remains. At regular seasonal intervals, however, Tiger Sharks are known to feed on specific prey. For example, they appear to know the precise locations and times of the year that certain animals, such as turtles and birds, breed and they turn up on cue to feast on the old, young, sick or unwary.

Tiger Sharks have attacked, killed and even eaten humans on occasion so they should be treated with the utmost respect. However when confronted with divers, they are usually very cautious and shy, coming in only briefly to satisfy their curiosity before departing for deep water.

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