Tiger sharks are known to be dangerous even to humans as they attack swimmers (though rarely). But this near-threatened terrifyingly beautiful fish also helps keep the ocean clean by eating almost anything it can sink its teeth into.

Read on to find out just what puts them at the top of the food chain even among shark species.


Appearance

Full length of a Tiger Shark with fading stripes
Full length of a Tiger Shark with fading stripes

Photo Credit:  Albert Cok CC-BY-SA-3.0,2.5,2.0,1.0

Just like their name, Tiger Sharks appear with vertical stripes on their body similar to a tiger. These lines are usually seen in juvenile sharks and disappear when they reach adulthood. Tiger sharks are almost monstrous in size, reaching a length of atleast18 feet and 2000 pounds, making them the fourth-largest shark and second-largest predatory shark, losing only to the Great White.

Habitat

Juvenile Tiger Shark with clearly seen stripes
Juvenile Tiger Shark with clearly seen stripes

Tiger sharks are commonly found in coastal areas and shallow waters but they are also known for using the open ocean to travel between islands. They are distributed on all tropical and temperature waters around the globe. 

Juvenile and adult tiger sharks live in different habitats because of predatory habits. Adult tiger sharks are on the top of the food chain and don’t have many predators other than killer whales and humans. For this reason, they prefer the open coast and diverse coral reefs

Juveniles, on the other hand, may be eaten by larger sharks and even by adult Tiger Sharks. For this reason, juveniles are usually found living in estuaries and protected bays.

Diet

Tiger shark eating a tuna
Tiger shark eating a tuna

Tiger sharks are aggressive predators and eat just almost anything they can bite and swallow. Their diets consist of many different fishes, invertebrates, vertebrates, seabirds, turtles, dead animals, and so on. Their powerful jaws and sharp, highly serrated teeth allow them to crack hard shells of turtles and clams. 

They are also found eating human-related trash (like tires, bottles, license plates, plastics, etc) that makes itself down to the ocean floor. In one way, these scavenger sharks are responsible for keeping the oceans clean.

Attacking Humans

These dangerous creatures are known for attacking humans and earned a reputation for being man-eaters. They tend to be both aggressive and curious when they spot humans in the water. Also, because of the lack of taste in their palates, they are unlikely to swim away after biting a human as other sharks do.

Conservation

Tiger Sharks are victims of overfishing for their fins, skins, flesh, and livers that contain vitamin A. Their reputation as “man-eaters” (though extremely rarely) also makes them a target of population control efforts in some places much to the disagreements of scientists. 

Conservationists consider tiger sharks to be ‘near threatened’ with extinction not very far from this species.

Reproduction

Tiger sharks mate via internal fertilization and can give birth to up to 80 baby sharks. Baby sharks are born after embryos develop inside individual eggs until they hatch. When they do, the mother gives birth to live juveniles.

Interesting facts

Tiger sharks on coral reefs
Tiger sharks on coral reefs
  • Tiger sharks are excellent scavengers with the best eyesight among the shark species and an equally keen sense of smell. This helps them become great nighttime predators.
  • Female tiger sharks have anywhere from 10 to 82 embryos and give birth to an average of 30 to 35 pups per litter.
  • Although other factors come into the matter for the cause of human attacks, Tiger Sharks usually attack swimmers on surfboards.
  • Even though they are known for human attacks, misinformation and pop-culture make it look like human attacks are common with Tiger Sharks when in reality only 1 in a million humans get attacked by these sharks or any other sharks. Swimmers have more chances to die by drowning than shark attacks. 
  • They are the garbage disposals of the ocean – eating anything from decayed animals to ocean trash.


FAQs

Is it safe to swim in a Tiger Shark zone?

No! It’s not safe to swim with Tiger Sharks as they are very aggressive predators and are known for human attacks

How deep do Tiger Sharks swim?

Tiger Sharks normally live around shallow, coastal waters but are also found swimming in a depth of 1150 feet.

How long do Tiger Sharks live?

Tiger Sharks live up to 12 years of age. 

What animals eat Tiger Sharks?

Because Tiger sharks eat anything, the only predators that prey on them are Killer whales and humans. Tiger sharks are fished for their meat, skin, and oil.  The liver of tiger sharks is rich in vitamin A which is also one of the main reasons they are hunted. 

What is the nickname for a Tiger Shark?

They are also called man-eater sharks because of their record for human attacks. 

Where do you find tiger sharks?

The tiger shark is a common large shark found worldwide. In North America, it is usually found on the east coast from Cape Cod to Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico, and on the west coast from California southward.