NOAA Fisheries Fact Sheet

Tiger Shark

Tiger sharks are one of the top three sharks implicated in unprovokedfatal attacks throughout the world. The tiger shark is the leading attack species in Hawaii.

Scientific name: Galeocerdo cuvier
Distribution: What is an Apex Predator?  Sharks are considered apex predators because they prey on many species lower onthe food chain, have few natural predators themselves, and are less abundant than their prey.Off the Atlantic coast of the United States tiger sharks are found from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. Off the Pacific coast tiger sharks are found from southern California southward. In the western central Pacific, tiger sharks are found in the Hawaiian, Solomon, and Marshall Islands.
Habitat: This sharks inhabits coastal waters close to shore to outer continental shelf and offshore including oceanic island groups.
Life history: This is one of the larger shark species; the largest individuals are believed to exceed 18 feet and 2,000 lb. Adults mature at approximately 9 feet and litters are large, often comprising from 35 to 55 pups
Management: In the Atlantic, tiger sharks are part of the large coastal shark management group, which is overfished; commercial and recreational fishing regulations are in place for this species. In the eastern Pacific, tiger sharks are not landed in commercial and recreational fisheries and no management measures are in place for this species. In the western central Pacific, tiger sharks are landed in commercial and recreational fisheries but currently there are no management measures in place for this species. Finning is prohibited.

Fast Facts About Sharks

Sharks are vulnerable to fishing pressure because they:

  • Grow slowlyTiger Shark
  • Take many years to mature (12 to 18 years in some species)
  • Often reproduce only every other year
  • Have few young per brood (only 2 pups in some species)
  • Have specific requirements for nursery areas (bays and estuaries)
  • Are caught in many types of fishing gear (hook and line, gillnet, trawl)

Sharks have adaptations allowing them to be apex predators including:

  • Teeth that are replaced throughout their life
  • Sensitive smell receptors
  • Eyes that adapt quickly to low light levels
  • Lateral line receptors that sense movement in the water
  • Electroreceptors that detect electrical fields due to the presence of prey

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