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Habitat of a Tiger Shark

Kashmira Lad
The tiger shark is a feared predator because of its ability to eat anything that comes in its way. This post provides information about the habitat and other characteristics of this fascinating creature.

Fun Fact

Due to its nature of swallowing anything that comes in its path, edible or inedible, the tiger shark has been given the moniker 'garbage can of the sea'.
The tiger shark is given the scientific name Galeocerdo cuvier. It is called 'tiger' shark because of the distinct dark stripes that are present on its gray-colored back. It is said to be the second-largest predatory shark after the great white shark. It is popularly known as 'sea tiger'.


The classification of the tiger shark is as follows.
  • Class:Chondrichthyes
  • Subclass:Elasmobranchii
  • Order:Carcharhiniformes
  • Family:Carcharhinidae
  • Genus:Galeocerdo
  • Scientific Name:Galeocerdo cuvier


Given below is the distribution of the tiger shark worldwide.

Atlantic Ocean

Eastern Region
Iceland, Morocco, United Kingdom, Mediterranean Islands, Canary Islands, Ivory Coast, etc.
Western Region
Gulf of Mexico, Bahamas, Caribbean Islands, Uruguay, etc.

Pacific Ocean

Eastern Region
Peru, Galapagos, California (south), etc.
Western Region
China, Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Philippines, Japan, etc.
Central Region
Tahiti, Hawaii, Solomon Islands, Palau, etc.


Warm and mainly tropical and subtropical or temperate waters are preferred by the tiger shark. Its habitat mainly consists of deep waters, but it has been known to swim into shallow waters in pursuit of prey. It is believed to migrate to areas that are close to the equator in colder months.
The average sea depth at which this shark will commonly be found is 350 meters (1150 feet). Certain sharks have even been recorded to reside as deep as 900 meters (about 3,000 feet). However, there have been sightings of this shark in waters as shallow as 10 to 20 feet (when hunting), which is too shallow for an animal of that size.
It is also known to appear in some river estuaries and cloudy waters near coastal regions, mainly where there is an abundance of food, which is by far this animal's only requirement when it comes to habitat.
It is also not known to have any specific pattern when it comes to feeding locations, as it will visit a specific location irregularly and after varied intervals of time, which can range from weeks to months.

Physical Description

This shark weighs between 850 to 1,400 pounds (385 to 635 kg). Its length is usually between 3 to 4 meters (10 to 13.8 feet). Bigger sharks can grow as long as 5 meters (17 feet) and weigh up to 2,000 pounds (900 kg). Females are known to be larger than males.
This shark has dark stripes, which are predominant in juveniles. These markings gradually fade away as the animal matures. The skin shows shades of bluish-green to sometimes a lighter yellow on the undersides.
It is an excellent swimmer, and one of the reasons for this is the head which is wedge-shaped, enabling the shark to move to any side very quickly. It has very sharp and powerful teeth that can even tear through a tortoise shell.
It has sensory organs called lateral lines which run down both its sides. These lines help the shark detect movement in the water as they recognize vibrations. It also has sensors on its snout known as ampullae of Lorenzini, which help detect even weak electric impulses emitted by creatures around, helping it further in hunting.


Known for gulping down anything that comes in its way, this shark feeds on a variety of food such as squids, jellyfish, many types of fish, crustaceans, mollusks, sea snakes, seals, dolphins, sea turtles, sea lions, rays, other species of sharks, and sea birds as well. There are a number of factors that enable it to devour its prey easily.
When in pursuit of a prey, it swims very well. Besides, it also has an excellent eyesight combined with a strong sense of smell that enables it to locate traces of blood in water. It is also known to swallow objects such as cans and tires when in a hurry to attack and devour its prey. Due to its size, it needs to eat a lot.


The mating season occurs in the months of March and May in the Southern Hemisphere and between November and early January in the Northern Hemisphere. Generally, a female can give birth to a large number of pups ranging from 10 to 80. The sexual maturity is seen at different stages for the male and female shark. When males reach the size of 2.26 meters, they are considered to reach sexual maturity, whereas females mature at 2.5 meters. Breeding is done through the process of internal fertilization. The gestation period is 14 to 16 months.
This shark is ovoviviparous. This means that the eggs form and develop inside the female and are carried by her. She does not lay eggs. They hatch internally, and pups are born when they develop. The pups can be up to 1.5 meters long at birth. During the mating process, the male shark is known to hold the female's back in his jaw to keep her still, which becomes painful for the female. This is why females mate after every three years.