Galeocerdo cuvier Click to enlarge image
A 70 cm long juvenile Tiger Shark caught off Nelson Bay, New South Wales, February 1998 (AMS I. 41081-001). Image: L. Kristian
L. Kristian

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    cuvier
    Genus
    Galeocerdo
    Family
    Carcharhinidae
    Order
    Carcharhiniformes
    Class
    Chondrichthyes
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The Tiger Shark grows to at least 6 m in length.

The Tiger Shark is a large potentially dangerous species that is usually found in coastal, tropical marine waters.



Identification

The Tiger Shark can be recognised by its blunt head, serrated cocks-comb-shaped teeth and its colouration. Small juveniles are grey with dark reticulations, which change to vertical bars in fish up to 3 m in length. The bars may be faint or lacking in individuals longer than 3 m.


Scales of a Tiger Shark, Galeocerdo cuvier
Scanning electron micrograph of the scales from a 2.9 m long Tiger Shark caught off Broken Bay, New South Wales, March 1998 (AMS I. 40534-002). Image: Sue Linday
Australian Museum

Habitat

Although sometimes seen well offshore, it is not an oceanic species.

Distribution

The Tiger Shark occurs worldwide in tropical and some subtropical waters.

In Australia the Tiger Shark is known from south-western Western Australia around the tropical north and south to the southern coast of New South Wales coast.



Feeding and diet

It is a scavenger that will eat a wide range of prey and even indigestible objects. Turtles and fishes are common prey items and perhaps surprisingly also oceanic pufferfishes (Bonnie Holmes, pers comm. 2011)


Tiger Shark, Galeocerdo cuvier
A set of tiger shark jaws from the Australian Museum Fish Collection, registration number AMS I.27078-001. Image: Paul Ovenden
Australian Museum

Danger to humans

Its large size, scavenging nature and shallow-water feeding result in it being dangerous to people.

References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
  2. Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 201.
  3. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  5. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994 Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO. Pp. 513.
  6. Paxton, J.R. 2003. Shark nets in the spotlight. Nature Australia. Spring. 27 (10): 84.
  7. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.
  8. Springer, V.G. & J.P. Gold. 1989. Sharks in Question: The Smithsonian Answer Book. Smithsonian Institution. Pp. 187.