The tiger shark Galeocerdo cuvier
is one of the most feared sharks in the sea second only to the Great White
Appearance: The Tiger shark is a large shark commonly reaching lengths of 12-14 feet (4 m), there have even been specimens estimated at 20-24 feet (6-7.5 m), these large ones can weigh around 2200lbs (1000 kg), but the average weight for an adult is around 1000lbs (450 kg).
The sharks have a brown/grey/olive colouring on top with a white/yellow/pale grey belly. The young sharks have dark spots on their backs, as the sharks grow these fuse to form the stripes that give the shark its name. On the older and much larger sharks these markings tend to have faded. The shark has a large head with a short, blunt snout.
Behaviour: The tiger shark is a very aggressive and powerful fish. It is capable of sudden bursts of speed with its large upper tail lobe, and its wedge shaped head allows the shark to turn quickly to the side. The shark has good eyesight but it uses its incredible sense of smell to find its prey, the shark is estimated to use 2/3 of its brain in processing scents.
The shark is primarily nocturnal, every night it moves closer to the surface and closer to the shore (if they're near one) in order to hunt, before returning to the deeper water in the daytime. The shark can be found in temperate and tropical waters around the world, both close inshore and in the open ocean, they are frequently found close inshore, in lagoons, in coral atolls, and even in river estuaries. The shark tends to only go 140 m deep but they can be found as deep as 350 m.
The shark's teeth represent a unique adaptation, they are curved with serrations that have serrated edges themselves, allowing the shark to feed on anything. Tiger sharks have adapted to eat a huge variety of foods including fish, other sharks, eels, rays, octopi, jellyfish, carrion and even garbage dropped by ships, this leads to one of the more famous stories involving sharks, where sharks have been found with license plates in their stomachs. Naturally with such an unspecialised diet the tiger shark has been known to attack and feed on humans, it has the second highest kill count of any shark after the Great White. The shark is inquisitive and will often slowly circle divers at close range, it has also been known to take bites without provocation.
The shark is normally a solitary fish but can travel in groups as large as six. The sharks have large ranges, travelling as far as 50 miles a day, and almost always more than ten, sharks that have been tagged have taken upto nine months to revisit the area.
Reproduction: Females become fertile at 8-10 feet (3 m) while males tend to mature at 7-9 feet (2.5 m). The young, mature in the womb gestating for a little over a year. Litters can be as small as 10 and as large as 80. At birth the pups are 2-3 feet (75 cm) long, their growth rate in the first year is fast but it slows down considerably, at birth they are already capable hunters. They tend to reach sexual maturity within 10 years. Tiger Sharks seem to be a resistant species to over fishing, due to their large litters and higher young survival rates in areas with low adult populations. It has been estimated that tiger sharks live for 30-40 years but it is very hard to tell for sure.