Tiger shark, all about one of the ocean's top predators
by Jorge Mezcua on Mar 15, 2023
The tiger shark, Galeocerdo cuvier, the only member of the genus Galeocerdo, is a large predator that can grow to over 5 meters in length and weigh up to 600 kilos. Its name refers to the dark vertical stripes that run along the flanks of its body. Its skin varies from blue to bluish-green, which is great camouflage since this shark usually hunts by attacking its prey from below, remaining unnoticed in the depths. As juveniles, these stripes are dark spots that become stripes as they mature and fade with age.
Their head is wedge-shaped to facilitate lateral attacks and, like other sharks, they have small holes in their snout, the ampullae of Lorenzini, which allow them to detect the electric fields generated by their prey. Their teeth are specialized to cut through flesh, bones and even materials as hard as turtle shells.
Tiger sharks, like most fish, also have a sensory organ called the "lateral line" that runs along their flanks and allows them to detect vibrations in the water, which is very useful for hunting in the dark at night or at great depths. To improve their vision in low light conditions, they also have a reflective layer behind the retina called the tapetum lucidum, which allows them to increase available light and improve their visibility.
Tiger shark habitat
Tiger sharks have been recorded at depths below 900 meters, but usually inhabit shallow waters near the coast. Tiger sharks can be found in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean (especially the Bahamas), the Indian Ocean, Australia and generally along the coasts of the Coral Triangle.
Tiger shark feeding
The Tiger Shark is a solitary hunter that is very important in maintaining the oceanic food chain. Its diet includes a wide variety of prey, from crustaceans, fish, seals, birds, dugongs, rays, squid, turtles, sea snakes, smaller sharks or dolphins, which usually avoid areas inhabited by tiger sharks. This shark plays a leading role in the balance of populations of different species, since it feeds on the most numerous and, like other sharks, on the weakest or sickest, and even on the carrion of large animals such as whales.
The Tiger Shark is considered one of the most dangerous and aggressive shark species, second only to the Great White Shark in the number of recorded attacks on humans, largely due to its tendency to approach coastlines and river mouths in search of food.
The Tiger Shark is caught for its fins, meat and liver, but in general, and although some populations have declined drastically, it is not considered a shark species at high risk of extinction, but its low reproductive rate and the boom in shark fishing in general may threaten its survival in our oceans.